Established in 2020 Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Study finds more Texas owls are testing positive for rat poisons
New research suggests that owls in Texas have high rates of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR)—blood thinning rat poisons—in their systems. Image courtesy: The University of Texas at San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- New research suggests that owls in Texas have high rates of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR)—blood thinning rat poisons—in their systems. Jennifer Smith, a professor of integrative biology in the UTSA College of Sciences, co-authored a research article published recently in PLOS ONE, the world's first multidisciplinary open access journal.

Eres Gomez, M.S. '22, a UTSA graduate who had conducted research in the Smith Wildlife Lab as a student, was the article's lead author. Heather Prestridge, a curator in the Texas A&M University Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections (BRTC) also co-authored the article.

Titled "Anthropogenic threats to owls: Insights from rehabilitation admittance data and rodenticide screening in Texas," the article assesses the anthropogenic risks faced by owls in Texas, an important region for migratory and non-migratory owls. Anthropogenic risks are hazards that are human made. They range from electric fence and vehicle collisions to exposure to ARs, including those that are heavily regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to their toxicity and poisoning hazards to wildlife.

"Owls are incredible predators who help control rodent populations, and thus may be important for minimizing damage to crops and human structures caused by rodent pests and for providing control of diseases associated with rodents," Smith said. "Because of the vital role they play in the ecosystem, it is important we support conservation efforts to ensure their survival. This study can facilitate this goal by informing strategies that mitigate the effects of anthropogenic threats faced by owls.

Smith and her collaborators utilized rehabilitation center data and liver screening data to measure AR levels in liver samples collected from deceased owls who were admitted into the Last Chance Forever the Bird of Prey Conservancy (LCF) and Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc. (WRR), two wildlife rehabilitation facilities that primarily receive owls from South and Central Texas. Additional liver samples were collected from deceased owls found in the wild and from owl specimens housed in the BRTC at the A&M campus at College Station.

Smith's team discovered a high occurrence of AR exposure, with 51% of the owls in their study testing positive.

In 2011, the EPA banned the sale of brodifacoum and bromadiolone—the ARs that were detected the most by Smith's research team—for the general public and residential consumers. However, they are still permitted for purchase and use by by pest control operators and the agricultural sector for rodent removal.

"To reduce AR exposure, we recommend using alternative measures to control rodents," Smith said. "For example, natural methods can be used as part of an integrated pest management strategy that considers a mix of nontoxic lethal or nonlethal methods such as habitat modification, trapping and nontoxic repellants."

Additionally, the research team encourages the development of educational programs to increase awareness of the effects of ARs on non-target wildlife such as owls.

Today's News

September 18, 2023

Scientists probe the source of key hydrocarbons on Earth-and in space

AI-driven tool makes it easy to personalize 3D-printable models

ATLAS experiment places some of the tightest limits yet on magnetic monopoles

Making AI smarter with an artificial, multisensory integrated neuron

New SARS-CoV-2 variant Eris on the rise, study shows

Revealing the secrets of protein evolution using the AlphaFold database

Corals storm back after 'sea-weeding' project

New research reveals why and when the Sahara Desert was green

Titanic galaxy cluster collision in the early universe challenges standard cosmology

Chemists use nature as inspiration for a sustainable, affordable adhesive system

Lack of maternal care found to affect development, microbiome and health of wild bees

Syphilis transmission networks and antimicrobial resistance in England uncovered using genomics

Study finds more Texas owls are testing positive for rat poisons

Scientists explain a glitch in the (extracellular) matrix


Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the ResearchNews newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful