28. October 2021

Off-the-shelf rat poisons killing owls too – and Bunnings asked to act


It was in all probability a painful loss of life for the jap barn owl that Blairgowrie resident Kent Stannard discovered whereas strolling on the Mornington Peninsula in September.

The owl lay on its abdomen with its pale, coronary heart-formed face turned in the direction of the sand, and subsequent to it lay the physique of its supposed prey, a lifeless rat.

A dead owl, and its rat prey, found on the Mornington Peninsula by a local resident, believed to have died after eating anticoagulant rodent poison.

A lifeless owl, and its rat prey, discovered on the Mornington Peninsula by a neighborhood resident, believed to have died after consuming anticoagulant rodent poison.

When Stannard shared the picture on social media the following day, different residents additionally stated that they had come throughout the our bodies of lifeless birds of prey within the space, and one posted a photograph of a lifeless goshawk.

The lifeless owl and rat mendacity collectively provided Stannard, a marine researcher, a clue in regards to the doubtless reason behind loss of life: the deadly impact of anticoagulant rodenticides, additionally referred to as second-technology rat poisons, which kill birds of prey like owls and kites.


“I’ve grown up on the coast, and it’s the first time I’ve seen a dead owl,” stated Stannard. “It was even more bizarre to find the owl and its prey side by side – very disturbing.”

The anticoagulant poisons have been restricted from common sale within the US, Canada and European Union however will be purchased in supermarkets and {hardware} retailers in Australia.

They take a hidden toll as a result of birds of prey can devour many rats and mice which have taken bait and the poison takes a while to work.

BirdLife Australia, the most important chicken advocacy group within the nation, has been campaigning against anticoagulant rodenticides for years, and is now calling on Australia’s largest {hardware} chain, Bunnings Warehouse, to cease stocking them.

There are about 25 rat poisons out there at Bunnings shops, and all however two are second-technology anticoagulant poisons, BirdLife says.

BirdLife lately commissioned an evaluation of the livers of 38 deceased endangered highly effective owls present in Sydney and on its city fringes to verify for rodenticide poisoning.

A dead masked owl in Victoria.

A lifeless masked owl in Victoria.

Powerful owls are a threatened species that stay throughout the jap seaboard, together with within the suburbs of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

The testing discovered 37 of the 38 samples confirmed anticoagulant rodenticide was current, and almost 60 per cent had ranges excessive sufficient to trigger impairment (making them extra vulnerable to visitors accidents). Ten per cent had ranges excessive sufficient to kill the birds outright.

The samples have been collected largely earlier than the height of the mouse plague earlier this yr, so replicate the “usual” contamination of the meals chain for these birds.

Dr Holly Parsons, the city chicken program supervisor at BirdLife, stated different merchandise have been out there to lure rats and mice, together with traps and first-technology anticoagulant rodenticides that don’t journey as far up the meals chain.

A powerful owl with an eye injury.

A robust owl with an eye fixed damage. Credit:Beth Mott

Even if the rodenticide didn’t kill the birds outright, it made them weak to being struck by a automobile as a result of they have been disorientated, stated Dr Parsons.

“These birds are flying around not at their best and in an urban environment where there are lots of risk from roads and people that is a dangerous state to be in,” Dr Parsons stated.

In current years anticoagulants rodenticides have been discovered within the our bodies of lifeless Tasmanian eagles, which reveals how far the chemical substances journey up the meals chain as a result of the eagles don’t eat rodents however the birds who prey on them.

Dead owls have additionally been found close to Wollongong, south of Sydney, the place Monty Madden, 10, and Millie Schulz, 12, discovered a lifeless endangered sooty owl underneath a bush of their yard. Shortly afterwards, a neighbour found a lifeless tawny frogmouth.

Bon Madden, Millie Schulz and Monty Madden with a dead tawny frogmouth.

Bon Madden, Millie Schulz and Monty Madden with a lifeless tawny frogmouth.

Various lifeless birds of prey have been discovered within the space, in accordance to native wildlife rescue volunteers. “It was very sad to see that this amazing bird had been killed,” stated Millie.

The kids made an owl-themed “spoonville” village of their entrance yard to elevate consciousness of the problem of anticoagulant rodenticides, and have additionally written to Bunnings asking it to cease promoting them.

“To Bunnings,” says Monty’s letter. “We found a dead sooty owl in our back garden which has been killed by your stupid rat poison.”

The animal-themed spoonville dedicated to the owls.

The animal-themed spoonville devoted to the owls.

Adrian Pearce, the Bunnings common supervisor of merchandise, stated the corporate lately met with BirdLife Australia and had been working with suppliers to embrace extra data on packaging about which merchandise are first or second technology rodenticides.

The firm is coaching workers and will separate the completely different styles of rodenticides on cabinets, he stated.

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