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Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis).
Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides don’t only kill rats and mice—they are a threat to the birds and mammals that prey on them. A neurologically impaired rat is much easier for a young bald eagle to catch than a healthy rat. Not only do these poisons kill large birds, but they also make it much more difficult for a raptor to recover from an injury or laceration.
A study by the Tufts Wildlife Clinic and Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine veterinary found that 91 percent of the raptors brought in for injuries tested positive for two or more different types of anticoagulant rodenticide. The problem affects the state’s eagles, owls, hawks, and falcons—species that were almost wiped out in previous decades by pesticides and needed years of intensive conservation to recover.
State Representative Jim Hawkins (D-2nd Bristol) has sponsored legislation addressing the issue. The S-GARs Bill would require pesticide companies to publicly disclose the effects of rat poison on the environment. It would also require non-poisonous alternatives, known as “Integrated Pest Management,” or “IPM,” in all state buildings and on land in Massachusetts.
Ironically, some of the best rodenticides are the raptors themselves—these animals consume thousands of mice and rats every year. Learn more about the bill and contact your representatives with your support.
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