By Tom Knudson, firstname.lastname@example.org
17 April 2011
Outside Palm Desert, a young bobcat dies mysteriously at a nature preserve. South of Nevada City, a farmer finds an owl dead near his decoy shed. In San Rafael, a red-shouldered hawk bleeds heavily from its mouth and nose before succumbing at an animal care center.
Each of those incidents shares a link to a widely used toxin that is turning up at dangerous levels in wildlife across California: rat poison.
Over the years, rat poison has spared state residents untold filth and disease. But a new generation of highly toxic, long-lasting poisons is killing not only rats, mice and ground squirrels, but whatever feeds on them, too.
As a result, toxins are rippling outward from warehouses to woodlands, from golf courses and housing complexes to marshes and nature sanctuaries. In California, the victims include bobcats, barn owls, red-tailed hawks, coyotes, kit foxes, kestrels and scores of other predators and scavengers.
"Rodenticides are the new DDT," said Maggie Sergio, director of advocacy at WildCare, a Bay Area wildlife rehabilitation center that has responded to dozens of poisoning cases. "It is an emergency, an environmental disaster. We are killing nature's own rodent control." …
"We've been collecting data forever," said Stella McMillin, an environmental scientist with the pesticide investigations unit of the California Department of Fish and Game. "They took 10 years after we knew it was a problem. It was absolutely too long."
Research by McMillin and others shows that exposure to rat poison is widespread, especially in and near urban areas where pests, people and poison mix. Around Bakersfield, 79 percent of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes tested have turned up positive for rodenticide. Near Los Angeles, 90 percent of bobcats sampled had rat poison in their blood. "Basically, when we look for it, we find it," McMillin said.
The same is true all over. Seventy percent of owls sampled in western Canada had rat poison in their livers. In New York, half of 265 birds of prey tested were positive for poison. In Great Britain, one of every two barn owls tested was contaminated.
"The truth is, it's not just across the state but across the country and across the world," said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service whose research has linked exposure to rat poison to a rare, often fatal form of mange in bobcats in Southern California. …
- 60 Minutes: The Age of Mega-Fires
- Altered Oceans
- Apocadocs: Humoring the Horror of Environmental Collapse
- Calculated Risk
- Carbon Based Climate Change Adaptation
- Census of Marine life
- Climate Change: The Next Generation
- Club Orlov: Dmitry Orlov and the Collapsnik Party
- Converging Emergencies, 2010-2020
- Crisis Forums
- Dead Trees ... Dying Forests
- Deep Into Artlife West
- Discover Environmentally-Friendly Degrees and Job Options
- Ea O Ka Aina: For a self-sustaining Kauai
- Economic Undertow
- Fire Earth
- Hypoxia in the Northern Gulf of Mexico
- IUCN Red List of Endangered Species
- Information Is Beautiful
- International Programme on the State of the Oceans
- Jeremy Jackson: Brave New Ocean
- Jim Galasyn: State of the Oceans 2011 pdf
- Lend Me a Looking Glass
- Love Salem
- Marine Climate Change
- Mongabay.com: Tropical Rainforest Conservation
- NASA Earth Observatory: Image of the Day
- NASA Visible Earth
- National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center
- Nature Bats Last
- Only In It For The Gold
- Ornery Bastard
- Other Voices, Other Choices
- Planet3.0 | Beyond Sustainability
- RealClimate: Climate Science from Climate Scientists
- Wit's End
- World Catastrophe Map