Rat Poison Feed

Rat Poison Killed a Mass. Eagle

Screenshot 2023-03-02 at 1.46.06 PMI hate to pass this along, but this sort of story is so sad. It only made the news because it was Bald Eagle.


Massachusetts is considering legislation to at least investigate these wildlife killers.

This from the article:

In a statement shared with NewsCenter 5, state Rep. Jim Hawkins said he and state Sen. Paul Feeney have re-filed their bill, "An Act relative to pesticides," which will provide the information needed to assess usage amounts and locations of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.

Hawkins stated the use of SGARs is creating imbalances in ecosystems and causing devastation in wildlife species such as bald eagles, owls, foxes, hawks and bobcats.

"When you have rodent control done, there are a lot of options and a lot of really good (ones), whether they be holistic, deterrent or other chemicals that don't bioaccumulate," said Zak Mertz, chief executive officer of New England Wildlife Centers.

Tell the EPA about Rat Poison

Banded dead Cooper's Hawk. JWIMG_7966Raptors are the Solution, the group leading the way on banning the nastiest rat poisons, is leading a write-in campaign about these nasty raptor-killing and pet-killing poisons, and telling the EPA that their regulations are totally inadequate

You can read more here:


You can read my other posts on these raptor killers here:


Deadline torespond is Feb. 13.



Alternatives to the Nastiest Rat Poisons

Rat poison bait station
This short article appeared with the main story on rat poisons in The Record:

   Raptors Are the Solution, a national coalition of non-profits, municipalities, scientists, and individuals, recommends:

   *ContraPest, a non-toxic rat-fertility control product. The coalition is using it in a pilot redevelopment project in Seattle and has had a 90 percent reduction in rats over several months.

  *The Raticator – an American-made electronic rat- and mouse-trap product that uses flashlight batteries to exterminate rodents humanely.

    *The "Good Nature" C 24 trap, which some people claim is effective.   

    *Snap traps in boxes, Snap traps in boxes are o.k. but should be used only in places where other animals can't get caught in them. 

    Note: Most pest control companies in California have switched to Cholecalciferol, which is a Vitamin D3 overdose. But it’s not recommended because it not only poisons rats but also non-target mammals, including dogs that get into the bait. On the plus side, there’s no evidence that it causes secondary poisoning or infiltrates the food web the way second-generation anticoagulants do.

Time to Curb Rat Poisons in NJ

Advocates say raptors like the Great Horned Owl are badly threatened by anticoagulant poisons used to target rats. Raptors like the Great Horned Owl prey on rats and can themselves be poisoned if they eat rats who have ingested dangerous chemicals.

“Most rat poisons kill more than rats — they also pose a fatal threat to birds of prey . This issue should not only get attention when a culturally iconic species like a bald eagle dies. Nearly every raptor species is vulnerable to rodenticide poisoning, from eastern screech owls to red-tailed hawks.” 

— Massachusetts Audubon 

Next time you visit a shopping center, office park or downtown, look around for black-plastic boxes that resemble shoeboxes, only a bit flatter. They are so common they have become an invisible part of the New Jersey landscape. 

The vast majority of these black boxes, known as “rat bait stations,” contain some of the nastiest poisons around, and they kill more than rats. They also kill or weaken any great horned owl, bald eagle, hawk and other wildlife that eats rats.

As New Jersey develops its open spaces, raptors must increasingly try to adapt to suburban and urban areas. The rat poisons they encounter there could mean a dim future for many of these magnificent birds. 

Our state’s raptors have fought back from the ravages of DDT. Now, they must fight back from rat poison.

The deadliest poisons are called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, and here’s how they work: 

A rat enters the black box, eats the bait and leaves. The rat poison slowly takes effect, preventing the rat’s blood from clotting, and the rat slowly bleeds to death. In its weakened state, the rat is an easy meal for a hungry owl or hawk. And the raptor eats the poison inside. 

Sometimes the poison kills the raptor outright. Other times, the raptor eats sub-lethal levels that accumulate in its system, like DDT. The weakened wildlife is more likely to die from other causes.

These poison dispensers were designed as the last resort when curbing rats. Instead, they have become the go-to solution, often ignoring the underlying causes. Notably, many restaurants and other businesses that use these rat-poison dispensers often leave their Dumpsters open or put their garbage in plastic bags — significant reasons for the rat upsurge in downtown Montclair. These free buffets attract more and more rats, creating an endless cycle of rat infestations — and poisoned wildlife. 

How serious is the problem?

In New Jersey, The Raptor Trust, the premier avian rehabilitation center in our region, no longer sends raptors that likely died from rat poison to the state for testing, for one simple reason. 

“We are all aware of the poisoning issue, so from my perspective, identifying one more bird that has succumbed to poison doesn't do much except confirm what we already know,” Raptor Trust executive director Chris Soucy wrote in an email.    

Nationally, The EPA has banned these poisons for household use — but the poisons are still widely available online.  

A study released earlier this summer by Cornell University found that two-thirds of the red-tailed hawks tested in New York State have anticoagulant rat poisons in their systems.

A 2021 University of Georgia study tested 116 bald eagles and 17 golden eagles for the presence of these rat poisons. Researchers found rat poison in 82% of the eagles.

An earlier study in NJ found residues of the worst types of rat poisons in 81% of the red-tailed hawks and 82% of the great horned owls tested. 

According to State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Nicole Lewis, New Jersey is taking a closer look at these poisons. “We’re currently doing a study on eagles. We’ve collected 100 liver samples from them for several years, and they are in the process of being tested.” 

She says that rat poisons have been detected in many of the samples so far, and that a recent New Jersey study on bobcats found residual rodenticides in this endangered species as well.

Opposition to these second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides is growing across our continent. California and British Columbia have placed moratoriums on their use, and Massachusetts is considering a similar step.

A dozen prominent environmental groups are asking Bergen County to pass a resolution opposing these poisons, as the Borough of Allendale has done. We are building a grassroots movement to expand our efforts statewide.

New Jersey residents have worked together to do great things for wildlife, protecting and preserving habitat, banning DDT, cleaning up the water environment and helping to bring back such iconic raptors as the peregrine falcon, the bald eagle and the osprey.  

We need to join together once again and reduce the threat of rat poison to our wildlife.

Jim Wright is a long-time nature writer and “Bird Watcher” columnist for The Record. Don Torino is president of the Bergen County Audubon Society.

A Poisoned Hawk's Odyssey

Banded dead Cooper's Hawk. JWIMG_7966
This appeared with the main story on rat poisons in The Record:

   This is the brief story of rat poison and a strikingly beautiful raptor with a long, barred tail. 

    At Cape May Point State Park last Oct. 11, rain began falling around 3 p.m., and bird-bander Bob Studholme placed a small aluminum loop on one last raptor’s left leg before calling it quits. A young male Cooper’s hawk headed south got Band No. 1134-02332.

  Fast forward to late June. Peter Romano of Cresskill heard a commotion in his yard and found blue jays and robins pecking a hawk to death. When Romano disposed of the body, he noticed a leg band and contacted Don Torino and me.

    While Don obtained more information about the hawk from its leg band, I retrieved the bird and drove to the state wildlife veterinarian in western New Jersey. 

   Dr. Nicole Lewis performed a necropsy (an animal autopsy). Initially, she found that the hawk had indeed been pecked to death. Further testing showed that its system contained lethal amounts of two second-generation rat poisons – Brodifacoum and Bromadiolone. The blue jays and robins had merely finished what the poisons had started.

   In some ways, this dead Cooper’s hawk is an exception. Because it was banded, a concerned citizen brought it to Don’s and my attention. Few dead raptors get tested for rat poison because most wildlife deaths go unreported. (When a hawk or fox dies in the woods or wetlands, no one even knows it died, let alone investigates what killed it.) 

   Since December 2020, I’ve asked Dr. Lewis to examine three dead great horned owls, three Cooper’s hawks, and a screech owl – all from northern Bergen County. Six of the seven died from rat poison.

   I hope No. 1134-02332 didn’t die for nothing. It’s time we protect our raptors.

                                                                                         Jim Wright