In Corvallis’ Jana neighborhood, an owl was heard hooting by residents and was recently seen by a Chintimini volunteer. As she was walking on Tyler Ave around dusk a large owl swooped off of a low branch in front of a home and flew up to a taller tree. It was a beautiful sight to behold and a reminder that we must take care of our local wildlife. Due to its unbelievably fast and completely silent flight, the owl was not identifiable, but from its vocalizations it is believed to be a Great Horned Owl. Listen to a Great Horned Owl sound here.
Great Horned Owls eat a variety of rodents, making them perfect pest control agents. But in both urban and rural areas, people use harmful rodenticides, not understanding the potential suffering it can cause not only to rodents, but also to other animals that share their environment. While rodenticides kill rodents, they also kill owls and other predators including hawks and bobcats. And without natural predators there will be an even bigger rodent problem.
According to The Hungry Owl Project:
Rodenticides are expensive, counterproductive and incredibly destructive to wildlife and our shared environment. In 2012, 79.1% of raptors (owls, hawks etc) and other rodent consuming wildlife that were tested by our local wildlife hospital, WildCare, were found positive for secondary rodenticide poisoning.
Rodenticides provide a very slow and horrific death for rodents, usually taking several days after ingestion to actually kill. … and as a result, will be the first to be caught. Owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, mountain lions, foxes, herons, egrets, domestic dogs and cats and even children can be at risk. Rodenticides are a serious problem and one that negates the help these natural predators would otherwise provide. Without natural predators, rodent populations would explode.
In our own clinic we often see owls and other predators suffering from rodenticide poisoning. Most of them have been victims of the most commonly used anti-coagulant based poisons, which have a high secondary risk to birds and mammals. The survival rate for these patients, even in our capable hands, is very low. We hope that by educating the community about how to avoid using rodenticides, we can help protect our local wildlife population, rather than unknowingly harm them.
Also worth mentioning, there are native rodents like wood rats and voles, who live in residential areas and are preferred prey for many predators. These animals, which we may mistaken for nuisance rats or mice, may also be killed by rodenticides, thereby damaging the natural food chain.
Don’t be fooled by labels – all rodenticides are meant to kill. There are some that might be considered safer to non-target animals than others, but there is risk involved with using any of them, and some are far more toxic than others. The anticoagulant based poisons are extremely toxic to the environment and should be avoided. The Cholecalciferal (Vit. D) based poisons are considered to have lower secondary toxicity. For detailed information about rodenticide poisons, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.
Instead of using poisons we encourage everyone to practice prevention. Make sure to keep your home and property clean of things that will attract rodents and keep your home sealed properly so nuisance animals can stay where they belong – outside. For more information about how to do this, visit the Living With Wildlife section of Chintimini’s website.
Corvallis is a place graced by beautiful natural areas, so seeing wildlife in our backyards can be a wonderful thing – especially when we are lucky enough to see an owl. Thanks so much for taking the time to understand how we can ensure the health of our local wildlife in Oregon.
If you do see an owl or other exciting wildlife near your home and can get a photo, please share it on Instagram and make sure to tag us @cwcwildlife and use the hashtag #cwcwildlife.