A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)

Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

A Coldstream resident is spreading awareness after a struggling owl resting on her property was found to have suffered secondary rat poisoning.

Kathy Renaud, who lives in the Coldstream/Lavington area, said she took the owl to the South Okanagan Raptor Rehabilitation Centre in Oliver in a Facebook post Thursday.

“After finding this beautiful owl on our property this weekend it was obvious that she was having issues.”

Renaud said she was able to get a volunteer at the rescue centre to pick up the ailing raptor. When speaking to staff yesterday, she was told the female owl was “fighting for her life” after showing signs of secondary poisoning.

“In other words, she ate a rodent that had been poisoned,” she said. “I am thankful that my cat and dog did not come across the rodent as I am sure they would have eaten it.”

On Saturday, Renaud told the Morning Star she just received word from the centre that the owl is still alive and on medication, but is partially blind and is not eating on her own.

“They are hopeful for her recovery, but it could take several months of care.”

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Centre staff asked Renaud to try putting the owl in a tree, “but she would not stand up and flew back to the ground.”

The volunteer agreed to take her to Oliver.

Renaud turned to social media to spread awareness about the incident, and her post garnered a wide response from residents with more than 140 shares and 250 reactions since March 4.

One commenter shared an online petition, sponsored by Rodenticide Free BC on the Action Network, which has collected roughly 1,900 signatures of its goal of 5,000 to urge the ministry of environment to ban rodenticides as a means of pest control.

“These products are inhumane, pose serious threats to animals including family pets and wildlife species, the environment, and to human health, while at the same time failing to control rodent populations over the long-term,” the petition states.

“Owls and other raptors are at a particularly high risk of secondary poisoning because of their dependence on rodents as a food source,” the petition continues, citing statistics from a 2009 study which found that 70 per cent of dead owls in B.C. had traces of at least one rat poison in their system.

“The increased poisoning of barn owls is of particular concern because of their status as threatened under Schedule 3 of the federal Species at Risk Act.”

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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