News24

Rat poison killing PE owls

2012-01-24 07:44

Port Elizabeth - About a dozen spotted eagle owls have died of poisoning in the past six weeks in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Eastern Cape, according to a newspaper report on Tuesday.

Raptor expert Arnold Slabbert told The Herald that deaths were linked to the continuing problem of secondary rat poisoning in food packing warehouses and in households.

He said it was also linked to the movement of young owls into new territories as they fledge from their parents’ nests.

"It’s really upsetting. While there are more and more folk who phone in and clearly want to do the right thing, there is still way too much poison and careless use of poisons out there.

"I’ve been receiving about two poisoned owl call-outs a week for the past six weeks.

"Owls used to be so much part of this metro, but we are systematically eradicating them.”

Rodenticide poisoning brings on a desperate thirst and the rat will often venture further and longer in the open than it usually would, in search of water. If its brain haemorrhages, it will be staggering around, he explained.

"However slightly it’s struggling, this vulnerability is detected by the raptor, and the target is chosen. The rat is wolfed down and the poison which has not yet killed the rat kills the hunter.”

Comments
  • Ray - 2012-01-24 08:25

    You can get rat poison which is not toxic to owls.Since the owls keep the rat population down this gives an additional benefit.

      magwhls - 2012-01-24 19:17

      Please name this and where it can be obtained. I have never been aware of ANY rodenticide that will NOT harm predators. I am in the US however, perhaps you know of something that is not available here.

  • Ian - 2012-01-24 08:33

    very serious problem, but what must we do to rid our enviroment of rats, if anyone has a solution we are listening

      brett.nortje - 2012-01-24 10:57

      Get a terrier! Get a pellet gun! Our neighbour used to have a massive rat infestation in his back garden - once they got in pest control our resident owls disappeared. One would see a streak across the TV - owl touchdown. Streak across the TV - owl takeoff from our TV aerial. Then: Nothing.

      Wall - 2012-01-24 15:20

      Make your home environment less tempting for rats - heavy lids on dustbins, pet food in sealed containers, etc. Close up any holes where rats could come in, or put cottonwool soaked in peppermint oil at the entrance points that you can't close. If all of that fails, use live traps and set the rats free somewhere in a field. This is an environmentally friendly solution. And if ALL else fails, use a snap trap. It's less pleasant for you, but more humane for the animals involved.

  • Thabile - 2012-01-24 08:49

    Juat now this will be turned into a huge racial debate. Let's wait and see! Tl tl tl tl tl tl!!!

  • reginald.rogers1 - 2012-01-24 08:53

    Agreed.... I have a huge problem with Rats in my roof. And searched in vain for more than 6 months for a product that doesnt cause secondary poisoning, or alternative methods to eradicate them..... The problem lies with the manufacturers of the poison (for not investigating alternatives) and not on the user, who frankly doesnt have a choice.

  • NinetiethOwl - 2012-01-24 09:31

    Please look into alternatives, folks. Disasters of this sort can be avoided - I should know!

      janine.cronje - 2012-01-24 14:33

      Care to Elaborate?

  • louis.langenhoven - 2012-01-24 10:10

    get rat traps and then feed the buggars to the owls

      magwhls - 2012-01-24 19:18

      Do not feed them to the owls - they may have ingested poison at another location!

  • Nicholas - 2012-01-24 11:38

    I think this Mr Arnold Slabbert must give these rats classes so that they can learn how to respect human assets, then poisoning them will be the criminal charge

  • Bruce - 2012-01-24 12:47

    We had rats in our ceiling, and I was concerned about my cats, but our vet reassured me that by the time the cat catches the rat, the poison would be dilute and would not affect my cats. We have not had any cat affected, but I would like to know if owls are more sensitive to the poison. We also have owls in our suburban neighbourhood, actually have one in our trees this morning, and I would hate to feel responsible for the death of any. Incidentally as far as we can tell, the owl in our garden is a Spotted Eagle Owl and we are thrilled to see it there.

      magwhls - 2012-01-24 19:20

      What your vet said is not necessarily true! All poisons can affect another animal as secondary poisoning! Even if it doesn't kill the animal outright, it can cause weakness. For example, a study in the US showed many bobcats afflicted with mange - which can kill them - all had levels of rodenticide in their systems.

  • Virginia - 2012-01-24 14:06

    Leave pellet guns well alone. Terrible things!! Agree with Ray, if there is a poison out there which is only toxic to rats and not owls use it but...let's start cleaning up our environment. We create the perfect environment for rats and then have to poison them which is also so inhumane,it's unbelievable. We all love owls - let's act now!

  • Wall - 2012-01-24 15:16

    Rat poison is a very cruel and inhumane anyway. Non-owl-friendly poison should be banned and alternatives to poison should be made more commonly known so that people would not opt to use it. Just do a search for humane rodent control, there are many options.

  • brian.fargher - 2012-01-24 23:47

    Interesting research report in the USA reported that poisons used to control rodents containing fumarin and chlorophacinone did not show adverse reactions in owls when rats killed by them were consumed. (Secondary poisoning of Owls by anticoagulant rodentcides/Mendenhall & Pank - Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 4, Winter, 1980). Perhaps this needs to be investigated. All other poisons tested ultimately killed the owls.

  • Teena - 2012-01-25 23:38

    The irony "the rat kills the hunter" , that owls are dying,is so upsetting!But the real problem to think about then is why is there a rat problem, or why are people poisoning the rats?

  • traci.robbwright - 2012-05-04 13:40

    The pioson that has no secondary effects, i.e. on the owls that eat the poisoned rat is Calle Racumin, available in most supermarkets. There is also another called Avi Rat.

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