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Evaluating a Rapid Field Assessment System for Anticoagulant Rodenticide Exposure of Raptors

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Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are commonly used to control rodent pests. However, worldwide, their use is associated with secondary and tertiary poisoning of nontarget species, especially predatory and scavenging birds. No medical device can rapidly test for AR exposure of avian wildlife. Prothrombin time (PT) is a useful biomarker for AR exposure, and multiple commercially available point-of-care (POC) devices measure PT of humans, and domestic and companion mammals. We evaluated the potential of one commercially available POC device, the Coag-Sense® PT/INR Monitoring System, to rapidly detect AR exposure of living birds of prey. The Coag-Sense device delivered repeatable PT measurements on avian blood samples collected from four species of raptors trapped during migration (Intraclass Correlation Coefficient > 0.9; overall intra-sample variation CV: 5.7%). However, PT measurements reported by the Coag-Sense system from 81 ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) nestlings were not correlated to those measured by a one-stage laboratory avian PT assay (r = − 0.017, p = 0.88). Although precise, the lack of agreement in PT estimates from the Coag-Sense device and the laboratory assay indicates that this device is not suitable for detecting potential AR exposure of birds of prey. The lack of suitability may be related to the use of a mammalian reagent in the clotting reaction, suggesting that the device may perform better in testing mammalian wildlife

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The authors thank Dr. M. Brooks and A. Stablein from the Comparative Coagulation Laboratory in the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University for assistance with prothrombin time analyses; G. Isted, B. Walker, P. Dumandan, S. Alsup, T. Jolley, J. Yurick, P. Ortiz, M. Sherman, and A. Meyer for field assistance and sample processing; and G. Herring and two anonymous reviewers for comments that improved our manuscript. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


This work was supported by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service [Cooperative Agreement Award F16AC00961], the Raptor Research Center at Boise State University and the US Geological Survey.

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Authors and Affiliations



BWS, JRB, and TEK obtained funding; AJD, JRB, TEK, BWS, KAM, and BAR designed the study; AJD collected data with assistance of MJS, ZPW, and MJL; AJD and JRB analyzed the data and interpreted them with assistance from TEK and BAR, AJD led writing with assistance from JRB and TEK and all authors contributed to revisions.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ariana J. Dickson.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

These studies were approved by the Boise State University Animal Care and Use Committee (protocols #006-AC18-003 and #AC17-015) and conducted under the following State and Federal permits: Colorado scientific collection license #19trb2091a, state of Idaho permits #110728 and #990121, Wyoming Chapter 33 permit #729, and USGS Bird Banding Permits #23715 and #22929. All study animals were released unharmed at original capture locations.

Availability of Data and Material

Data from this study can be found in: Dickson A (2020) Prevalence of Anticoagulant Rodenticides in Ferruginous Hawk Nestlings and Evaluation of a Novel Method to Rapidly Assess Exposure. MS thesis, Boise State University, Boise, Idaho, U.S.A.

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Dickson, A.J., Belthoff, J.R., Mitchell, K.A. et al. Evaluating a Rapid Field Assessment System for Anticoagulant Rodenticide Exposure of Raptors. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 79, 454–460 (2020).

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