Sad news from our neighborhood neighbors in Glen Park: A Great-Horned Owl that lived in their park died suddenly in November. An autopsy revealed the beautiful bird died after eating a rodent laced with rat poison:
Examined at WildCare and necropsied (autopsied) at/by the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory System, his body was found to be reasonably nourished (he had part of a rodent in his stomach), but was otherwise internally toxic, diffusely discolored and badly hemorrhaged throughout. He had died of “presumptive AR intoxication,” anticoagulant rodenticide poisoning. That meant that he had eaten poisoned rodents. Great Horned Owls consume 10% of their body weight every day, equal to approximately five medium rodents. A Great Horned Owl family with babies will eat considerably more.
It is very sad to have lost this owl. The people who found Patient #1709 generously paid for the necropsy. They and their neighbors are particularly concerned about a pair of Great Horned Owls who live in the same neighborhood, and have watched them nest there every year for ten years. They are worried that deceased Patient #1709 may have been one of that pair.
Commonly available rodenticides are consumed by rodents, the basic food source for a number of different predators all the way up the food chain. These poisons kill by making whatever animal eats them bleed to death internally – slowly and painfully. While the poisoned animals – targeted or not – are still alive, they can be consumed by other predators. It is a terrifying prospect; to kill many animals while targeting only one.
For the purpose of this release we include not only San Francisco media, but also the specific neighborhoods of Glen Park (where Great Horned Owl Patient #1709 was found), West Portal, Diamond Heights and Noe Valley to help them protect the remaining owls – and any other animals that could eat poisoned rodents there.
It’s strange that Bernal Heights wasn’t included in the alert, because Great Horned Owls have settled on Bernal Hill too, and not all that long ago. It would be swell to have them again. So the lesson stands: Please don’t use rat poison, unless you like killing magnificent owls at the same time.
PHOTO: Great Horned Owl on Bernal Hill, 2007. Photo by Art Siegel