A Great Horned Owl found dead near Kings Park killed by rat poison. (Photo courtesy Robert Vanzella)

Saanich residents sound alarm after second owl dies of rat poison

Great Horned Owl found in Kings Park killed by three rodenticides

Rat poison is to blame for a second owl that died near Kings Park in Saanich.

On April 15, workers at a construction site on Kings Road spotted a sick Great Horned Owl swaying around before it fell and died. One of the workers reached out to Robert Vanzella, a resident who came across a poisoned owl in the area last fall, asking him to collect the bird’s body.

Vanzella and his wife, Deanna Pfeifer, came across a dead Barred Owl near Kings Park on Nov. 29, 2019 and took it home to learn a cause of death. Necropsy results showed that owl had two different commercial-grade rat poisons – brodifacoum and bromadiolone – in its system.

READ ALSO: Necropsy results show Kings Park owl likely died from rat poison

Vanzella and Pfeifer suspected rat poison in the second owl. Following a necropsy at the Animal Health Centre lab in early May, the Ministry of Agriculture reported that the Great Horned Owl had been healthy and robust before it died from suspected anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity.

This owl had traces of three different rat poisons – brodifacoum, bromadiolone and difethialone – in its body, Vanzella said.

He explained that rat poisons aren’t just lethal to rodents but also to their predators as the poison can stay active for months.

Vanzella said residents have spotted several bait boxes in the neighbourhood surrounding Kings Park – many of which he said don’t comply with provincial pesticide regulations. He and Pfeifer have filed complaints with the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

READ ALSO: Kings Park owl found dead, neighbours request an autopsy

“This is such a frustrating thing,” Pfeifer said. “We have been working non-stop to try and create change but here we are with another owl in our arms.”

The couple is campaigning for the removal of the bait boxes and the use of alternative rodent control options.

Pfeifer pointed out that there are a number of steps that should be taken prior to using rat poison – including securing buildings to stop rodents from entering, covering garbage cans to cut off their food source, setting up humane traps and using rat contraceptives to manage the rat population.

Rat poison is meant to be “a last-ditch effort,” she said.

READ ALSO: Metchosin mom pleads for the end of rat poison use after cat dies

Pfeifer has been in contact with various North American advocacy organizations fighting for reduced use of rat poison, new pest control options and increased enforcement of pesticide regulations.

She and Vanzella have also reached out to a number of local authorities to share their concerns including both Saanich and Victoria mayor and council, the B.C. Senior Integrated Pest Management Officer and municipal health officers. As of May 28, they’d received positive responses from Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and Coun. Ned Taylor.

Once the use of rat poison is reduced in the area, Pfeifer hopes to construct nesting boxes to attract owls back to the park to provide natural rodent control.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of SaanichparksWildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Metchosin bird card project finds its wings

On display at Metchosin ArtPod from July 10 to 12

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read