Residues of an anthelmintic veterinary drug (closantel) detected in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Scotland

Giergiel, Marta and Campbell, Steve and Giela, Anna and Sharp, Elizabeth and Casali, Fabio and Śniegocki, Tomasz and Sell, Bartosz and Jedziniak, Piotr (2023) Residues of an anthelmintic veterinary drug (closantel) detected in red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Scotland. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 253. 114651. ISSN 0147-6513 (

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The contamination of the environment by some veterinary medicines and their impact on wild animals is of increasing concern. However, there is a lack of information about their residues in wildlife. The sentinel animals most commonly used for monitoring the level of environmental contamination are birds of prey, and information on other carnivores and scavengers scarce. This study examined the livers from 118 foxes for residues of a range of 18 veterinary medicines (16 anthelmintic agents and 2 metabolites) used on farm livestock. The samples were collected from foxes, primarily in Scotland, shot during legal pest control activities conducted between 2014 and 2019. Closantel residues were detected in 18 samples, and the concentrations found ranged from 6.5 µgkg−1 to 1383 µgkg−1. No other compounds were found in significant quantities. The results show a surprising frequency and level of closantel contamination, raising concerns about both the route of contamination and the potential impacts on wild animals and the environment, such as the potential for significant wildlife contamination to contribute to the development of closantel-resistant parasites. The results also suggest that red fox (Vulpes vulpes) could be a useful sentinel species for detecting and monitoring some veterinary medicine residues in the environment.