Poison may be killing more than just the intended targets

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife experts remind home and land owners that poison baits used to control mice and rats can sicken owls, hawks, foxes, bobcats and other wildlife species.

People should take extra care when using rodent control to follow product directions carefully and explore other options for control.

Wildlife deaths are generally the result of secondary poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides used in the baits, said ODFW Assistant Wildlife Veterinarian Julia Burco. Birds and other wildlife that eat dead or dying rodents that have consumed the bait are poisoned. Some wildlife will eat the bait directly, Burco said, as will pets.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are usually formulated into pellets, blocks or bars and can be brightly colored. They work to prevent normal blood coagulation, resulting in bleeding throughout the body and eventual death.

Burco said there are documented cases of raptors and bobcats that have died as a result of rodenticides. Most recently, a great horned owl was found in the Willamette Valley confirmed to have died of poisoning. Owls are especially vulnerable as their diets consist largely of rodents.

The best option for rodent control is to prevent problems in the first place:

n Block entry by rodents into the home, basement or building by sealing holes;

n Reduce potential food sources and nesting areas in and near buildings, including cleaning up seeds around bird feeders;

n Use mechanical rodent traps;

n Employ a licensed wildlife control operator or licensed pesticide applicator.

Everyone who uses pesticides must follow the directions on the label, including restrictions, says Rose Kachadoorian of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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