That Cooper’s Hawk fledgling is looking to you for help. The photo is by Kersti Muul, who also brought this call for volunteers to our attention. It’s from the recently founded Seattle chapter of the advocacy group RATS – Raptors Are The Solution. Their goal is to save wildlife – and pets, too – from rat poison, by documenting its use and urging users to switch to eco-friendly methods of rodent control. For example, their call to action notes, “The owls are hooting about Seattle University, which has rid its campus of poisons and is safely managing rodents using integrated pest-management strategies.” The organization also notes:
As of May 2020, an on-going research project to evaluate effects of rodenticides on raptors by the Urban Raptor Conservancy has studied 60 deceased urban raptors (20 barred owls). They were taken to PAWS in Lynwood and tested for rodenticides in their livers.
Overall, 82% of the birds tested positive for at least 1 anticoagulent rodenticide
73% of those birds had 2 different rodenticides
55% had 3 or 4 different rodenticides
The percentage is even higher for owls alone because they eat rodents almost exclusively and their livers cannot metabolize the poisons as well.
2 Barred owls were rescued from Key Arena during construction. One died with the highest levels of second generation rodenticides of any raptor studied to date. The other was treated with Vitamin K and released.
We have hundreds of raptor (Coopers Hawks, Merlin, Barred Owl, Osprey, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Peregrine) nests in the City of Seattle. Most raptors eat rats.
Here’s what they need help with:
We need volunteers to help count rat poison bait boxes that are placed in urban bird and wildlife habitats. We will have a brief data collection training session and organize folks for social distance walk-abouts. We need to know where the rat poison is being used so that we can contact business owners and organizations’ facilities managers to urge them to use nontoxic Integrated Pest Management methods for managing rodents. Rat poison is not only killing rats; it is killing their natural predators (raptors) and poisoning the entire foodweb.
For more info, including who to contact, see this flyer.