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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: Testing a molasses-based bait for oral vaccination of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) against Mycobacterium bovis

Published source details

Palmer M.V., Stafne M.R., Waters W.R., Thacker T.C. & Phillips G.E. (2014) Testing a molasses-based bait for oral vaccination of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) against Mycobacterium bovis. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60, 265-270


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Treat disease in wild mammals Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

A study in 2012 on captive animals in Iowa, USA (Palmer et al. 2014) found that white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus readily consumed a molasses-based bait, including when it contained a dose of a disease vaccination. In 48 of 50 trials, all baits were consumed within three hours. However, on >62% of occasions, all baits in one serving were consumed by a single deer. All baits containing Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine were consumed. Baits, containing flour, cane molasses, sugar, water, shortening, sodium bicarbonate and sodium chloride, were baked into 8-g pellets. Seven pellets were fed to deer in addition to their usual feed, in each of five pens (three each containing three deer, one with four deer and one with 50 deer) daily for 10 days. Consumption was observed using camera traps. Additionally, five baits containing 0.2 ml BCG were offered to three deer during January 2012, in addition to their usual feed.

(Summarised by Nick Littlewood)