Protect Mass. Birds of Prey - Decrease use of Rat Poison

A female bald eagle found dead in her nest on the Charles River in March (pictured above) suffered a fatal hemorrhage after consuming smaller animals who had themselves consumed rat poison, as confirmed recently by MassWildlife officials. This is the first confirmed case of such poisoning in Massachusetts and evokes a clarion call to reign in pesticides use in our Commonwealth.

NOFA/Mass is partnering with several other nature-defending organizations to cosponsor late-file legislation, sponsored by Representative Jim Hawkins, to decrease the use of rat poisons in the state.

Please use this form to send a message to your legislators asking them to cosponsor HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides.” Then follow up with a phone call for maximum impact! (Find numbers here.)

According to information presented by Raptors Are the Solution (RATS):

  • Of the 161 dead raptors submitted to and tested at Tufts Wildlife Clinic in a study between 2006 and 2010, 86% had poison residues in their liver tissues.

  • For an additional 94 Massachusetts raptors necropsied from 2012 through 2017 at Tufts, 96% had detectable poisons

  • 9 Snowy Owls died from lethal levels of rodenticides while they were in Massachusetts over the winter of 2017/18 (from Mass Audubon)

“Most rat poisons kill more than rats—they also pose a fatal threat to birds of prey…. This issue should not only get attention when a culturally iconic species like a Bald Eagle dies. Nearly every raptor species is vulnerable to rodenticide poisoning, from Eastern Screech-Owls to Red-tailed Hawks.” -MassAudubon (“Rat Poison Is Killing Birds Of Prey, And People Are Finally Paying Attention”)

The Charles River eagle was the victim of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR) poisoning. As explained further by MassAudubon:

“Second-generation anticoagulants don’t kill rodents immediately. While these rodenticides can kill rats with a single dose (which is why many consumers prefer them), poisoned rats can still live for a few days and continue eating poisoned bait. This delay means that rats can ingest enough poison to kill a much larger animal by the time they finally succumb. While any rodenticide can kill a raptor, second-generation anticoagulants are the most dangerous.”

While personal use of these second-generation anticoagulants (SGARS) is already banned in MA, licensed pest companies can still use it when hired to deal with rodent problems.

What this law would do

Proposed legislation, HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides,” would do more than protect raptors like bald eagles. It could go a long way to reducing pesticides use across the Commonwealth. This bill would:

  • require the use of integrated pest management plans on public lands and publicly-owned property;

  • require MDAR (Dept. of Agricultural Resources) to use an online database for pesticide use reporting records;

  • require pest control companies to discuss IPM with consumers when they are providing services;

  • require MDAR to create some educational programs regarding IPM.

This legislation is cosponsored by Animal Legal Defense Fund, The Humane Society of the United States - Massachusetts, Mass Audubon, MSPCA, New England Wildlife Center, NOFA/Mass and Raptors Are The Solution (RATS).

“Integrated Pest Management” (IPM) is an “ecosystem-based strategy” which focuses on long-term prevention of pests through such techniques as biological control, habitat manipulation and modification of cultural practices. (To be clear, IPM may still include toxic pesticides as a “last resort...”)

Please use this form to contact your legislators today to ask them to cosponsor HD.4206, “An Act relative to pesticides,” and share this article with your networks.

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