Rat poison is killing eagles and owls

Rat poison is killing eagles and owls

Anticoagulant rat poison products are causing widespread deaths among eagles, owls, and other wildlife throughout the United States.

A coalition of Massachusetts residents is urging the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to immediately end the use of these toxic chemicals.

The petition, prepared by the Harvard Law School Animal Law and Policy Clinic, represents various wildlife rehabilitators and conservation groups.

“Rodents are a key food source for birds of prey, so poisoning rats is a surefire way to kill owls and hawks too,” said Lexi Neilan, a student at Harvard’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic.

Rat poison causes painful death 

Anticoagulant rat poison, also known as anticoagulant rodenticide, kills rats and other rodents by disrupting their blood clotting process. 

The primary effect of anticoagulant rodenticides is internal bleeding. This happens in various parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, muscles, and other tissues. 

As internal bleeding progresses, rats becomes weak and lethargic. The animals experience significant pain and discomfort before ultimately dying from blood loss and organ failure.

Once predators consume these poisoned animals, they get sick and experience the same symptoms as rats. Wildlife rehabilitators often have to save these animals.

Tests by Cape Ann Wildlife have found rat poisons in the livers of numerous animals, including hawks, owls, crows, a raven, a coyote pup, and red foxes.

A study by the Tufts Wildlife Clinic reported that all 43 red-tailed hawks admitted over two years tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides.

“Anticoagulant rodenticides are threatening to undo decades-long efforts to protect species like the bald eagle,” said Lla Anderson of Harvard’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic. “We have no choice but to remove these poisons from the environment. We have got to stop feeding them to rodents.”

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