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Bald eagle dies from eating something laced with rodenticide; first such case in Massachusetts

The state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reports a bald eagle collapsed and died in her nest along the Charles River in Middlesex County after eating something that had itself eaten "second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide" (link has a photo of the dead bird).

While mortalities in bald eagles due to anticoagulant rodenticides have been documented in other states, this is the first confirmed case in Massachusetts. In mid-March, observers reported odd behavior of an adult female eagle at a nest located on the Charles River in Middlesex County. Unfortunately, within a day, the bird had died on its nest.

A necropsy at the Tufts Wildlife Clinic and a toxicology scan of the bird's liver confirmed the eagle died from the sort of internal bleeding that is the way the chemical kills mice and rats. In fact, the eagle showed levels of three different kinds of anticoagulant rodenticides.

While bald eagles primarily eat fish, they are opportunistic foragers that feed on a variety of animals and are known to scavenge or prey on small mammals.

The division adds the one saving grace is that the state's bald-eagle population is on the increase, with some 80 nesting pairs observed from the Berkshires to Cape Code. And:

According to observers, within a week of the female’s death, another adult female eagle was observed at the nest with the male adult.

The division urged homeowners to try other methods to get rid of rodents, such as sealing up any holes through which mice might enter a house, securing any trash they might rummage through, using snap traps and only hiring pest-control firms that use non-anticoagulant methods for ridding houses of rodents.

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Comments

As usual damage to the Earth and its creatures done by humans!!!!

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Rodentcide, Pesticides, hell, certain Herbicides - smaller things consume this stuff, die, bigger things eat them, and also die. There's no need for all these poisons.

If you have bugs, put out bird feeders and plant a bush for them to nest in. If you have mice, get a cat. 13 years in Boston and I've seen a mouse ONCE - and it was dead in my desk chair, a very nice present from my favorite boy. :)

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but it's not always that simple. I had a cat for years... and mice for years. Some cats are just really bad a catching mice. (she was very good at chasing laser pointers though...)

I also lived in a Boston apt that had rats in it that no cat would scare away. They were in the hallways and the apartment and all over the sidewalks.

It's nice to be able to live somewhere that a cat is enough to keep rodents away.

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True, to be fair, he's a beast.

Bird feeders are another problem, often attracting vermin.

a few things

1) pet free rentals are a thing so not always possible
2) Your cat has to be willing, once my old cat got above 10, he no longer was interested in catching mice... he'd play with a dying one but running after them. Nope.

I've lived in my place for 12 years now. For 9, we had two cats here. I think I saw a mouse twice in that time period. Neighbors would constantly complain about mice, but we saw none even tho we are on the 1st floor. But they have dogs, we had cats. So yeah I get it.

But I tell ya.. one cat died (RIP) and the other one went with the roommate/seller. Within months & the scent died down, I felt like the mice should be making the new mortgage payments not me.. there were so many.

I tried EVERYTHING. Clogging holes, using pre-baited traps, glue traps. Nothing stopped them until I got traps I bait (and add peanut butter to the green block). Havent seen a mice in a long time now.

Poison works. Its sad. But until something better comes along, I'll continue to use it. I'm sorry after having a mouse lunge at you from your cupboard after chewing its way thru a loaf of bread was enough to go to all measures to get rid of them.

(and yes I know "get another cat"... I have reasons not too currently)

It would be nice if we could control this invasive species by completely natural means, but its not realistic. Norway rats kill other animals in more ways that just growing immune to man made poisons.

Pest removal professionals could use dry ice to safely eradicate infestations without polluting the environment. The FDA needs to approve this method.

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The FDA does not approve pesticides, that regulatory authority falls to the EPA, which granted the first dry ice rodenticide approval under the brand name Rat Ice (Registration #12455-148) in 2017.

I would be remiss if I didn't say that dry ice is NOT non-polluting, but rather the benefits of this option outweigh the specific risks of the alternatives.

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What is polluting about it? Just the fact that it evaporates into carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), or something else?

Yes, because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

I don't mean to suggest that as a disqualification for its use in this context, in fact, I absolutely support using it. But we should never lose sight of any harms when we consider the benefits of anything.

The carbon dioxide didn't exist before it was frozen into dry ice?

directly from the atmosphere, rather than being generated by burning fossil fuels.

The carbon dioxide used for dry ice is largely byproduct of other industrial production, such as ammonia and petroleum production. We can keep dancing around the word pollution, but by definition, we're still talking about pollution.

"It would have ended up in the atmosphere anyways" may be truthful, but that doesn't mean it doesn't fit the definition of pollution, which the original comment I responded to had suggested it was not a source of pollution. My only point was that we should be precise when talking about such topics; dry ice in this application appears to absolutely be far less polluting and much less hazardous to the immediate environment than several other common products, such as these anticoagulant rodenticides. Considering the benefits along with the risks, every time, will help us avoid unintended and unforeseen consequences.

It is very effective. Last summer rats burrowed into the gardens in front of my building and the building next door in the South End/BMC area, so I went to Acme Dry Ice in Cambridge (I didn't realize I could get the same at the much closer Brookline Ice in the Newmarket area), got a box of dry ice pellets, scooped the pellets into all of the openings in both gardens, and covered the openings with soil. The first application, it seems wasn't 100% effective, as a day or two later, another hole appeared (it was smaller and less trafficked, so I assume there was one surviving rat), so I did the same to the new hole and no more rats. The rats went from being garden vermin into garden fertilizer.

I was glad to hear that the male has already found a new companion.

I think he offed her to avoid the alimony.

What's the chance that the person who put out the poison has at least two t-shirts and one sticker on their vehicle showing an angry bald eagle cause 'Murica?

John, there are a lot of people in America that do not like having mice and rats in their homes.

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Are a sign of filth. Clean your house.

Mice - Use sticky traps and a corn flake

No need to use poison.

Sticky traps are also not great. Snap traps are the way to go, or the more expensive traps that also quickly kill, and contain the dead rodents.

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In the past (before trying my hand at dry ice -see above), I've used electric traps in one of the apartments in the building I manage with some success. They're very effective on mice inside the building, but rats (out in the garden -thankfully I've never found rats in the building) are smart and may learn to keep away from them. Also, if you leave them outside in a garden and it rains, they stop working. They are very quick, clean, and efficient, and are probably the most humane way to kill vermin, besides the dry ice method (which more or less puts them to sleep).

The property owner needs to fight them like a war. The building needs to be inspected and holes sealed up. Renters always get blamed but they can't do what is required.

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I don't think most people are aware of all of the consequences of rat poison.

Both my cat and dog were severely poisoned by rat poison. In our case, it wasn't homeowners, it's the city construction sites. They put those huge boxes of poison on their perimeter. Small rodents eat the poison and slow down making it much more likely that they get caught by a predator like my cat or the eagle in this article. In my dog's case, she chomped on the yummy grass around the boxes where the poison had been transferred to.