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Birds being harmed by rat poison, experts suggest alternatives

A strategy many use to rid pests from their homes is having a devastating effect on our predators of the sky."...

Posted: May 3, 2018 3:02 PM
Updated: May 3, 2018 3:02 PM

A strategy many use to rid pests from their homes is having a devastating effect on our predators of the sky.

"This is the Great Horned Owl that was submitted to us yesterday," said Anne Justice-Allen of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, as she carries a black trash bag from an industrial-size freezer.

From that trash bag, she pulls out the body of a juvenile Great Horned Owl. Justice-Allen is hoping to get some answers on what killed the bird.

"One of the things we try and determine is whether or not there's any sign of injury; this bird doesn't have any sign of real injury at all," Justice-Allen said. "We look to see if they have any fractures that may have caused hemorrhaging and caused their death but again, we aren't seeing any with this bird, so we know he wasn't hit by a car or something like that."

Over the last several years, 42 raptors have been found dead -- their causes of death were mysterious at first but becoming more clear every day.

"Everything from eagles to various hawk species, a number of owls," Justice-Allen said, who has performed examinations on the birds.

In fact, over the last week, this is the second Great Horned Owl suspected to have died from exposure to rodenticide, a popular poison used to exterminate rats, mice, and other rodents around homes.

"Currently we have more than 30 cases pending that we're submitting for testing and we believe more than half will come back as exposure to rodenticide," Justice-Allen said.

The signs of the poisoning are only visible after necropsy.

"Inside of them when we take a look, we're almost certain that it's rodenticide when we see a lot of internal bleeding," Justice-Allen said.

Bob Fox with Wild at Heart says it's a problem caused by the natural cycle of predatory life.

"Rats that consume the rat poison are lethargic, they're out, they're easy prey...it makes it very accessible for wildlife to eat them," Fox said.

Treating them is nearly impossible, and many times it not only kills one bird but a whole generation.

"Adults will bring back the poisoned rats to the nest," Justice-Allen said.

Restrictions have been put in place to reign in the use of rodenticides but enforcing it is difficult.

"In 2015, the EPA put on the restricted list a number of what we call second generation rodenticides, these are rodenticides that are particularly persistent and potent," Justice-Allen said.

"By restricting those rodenticides, the thought from EPA was that they would be able to reduce the potential of rodenticide poisoning in our raptors and other wildlife, and clearly that has not occurred."

The move looked to stop those rodenticides from being sold by retailers and only put them in the hands of certified pest-control applicators. However, it didn't require retailers to remove what was left on the shelves.

"So who knows how much of that remained in stock and in warehouses," Justice-Allen said. "We've also seen cases where certified applicators are still using these products."

"These birds are our greatest exterminator. One owl can get rid of thousands of pesky rodents in its lifetime," Fox said. "When you kill one rat that causes the death of one owl, the return on investment just isn't there,"

Fox and Justice-Allen both agree change now rests in the hands of the public.

"Try and find another way to remove roof rats and problem rodent species," Justice-Allen said.

Experts say the next time you hire a pest control company, ask about live traps, snap traps, botanicals and other alternatives to rodenticide as there are many ways to rid yourself of the rodents without taking the lives of Arizona's native predators.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
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Monona4352
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Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
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