Rat Poison and Owls in Metro Vancouver part 2

A few months ago I posted an article about all the owls dying in Metro Van due to rat poison after a Pygmy Owl tested positive in North Van near Maplewood Bird Sanctuary and a few days ago a dead Northern Saw-Whet Owl seen behaving strangely the day before before at the same location. It is being tested but most likely it died from rat poison. Unbelievably, right beside a bird sanctuary Maplewood Flats owned by the Wild Birds Trust the federal government building has rat trap boxes with poison all around it! Maplewood has Barred and Great Horneds there too. Several birders have written letters to their MPs, MLAs and Mayors as laws need to change. This is a problem all over cities but especially in North America. Is a cruel and slow way for both the rat and the owl to die. It makes the rat and mice walk around more lethargically which makes it easy pickings for an owl. Hence why so many owls died. I know a Barred Owl pair that I watch frequently 90% of their diet are large sewer rats. This is great to get rid of these pests but bad also because they most certainly will be injecting rat poison one of these days if they haven't already. The sad fact is that Barn Owls too are dropping like flies from this and they have a hard enough time already they are hunting in the day this winter like last winter due to heavy snowfall already many have watched a Bald Eagle tear apart a Barn Owl that was out in the day it was not pleasant because they scream and it's being eaten alive but yes its Mother Nature but more importantly it's now one less Barn Owl. This is why it is very irritating when I know that someone was recently seen in the off limits marsh area at Boundary Bay photographing it hunting while everyone else was being respectful and standing on the street. That one person can cause huge disturbance for hunting Barn owls not to mention the Shorties who also aren't doing well. Most of the time they lose their meals in the day to other raptors that's why they are designed to hunt at night. The Shorties roost on the ground. Give these guys space after what happened last year with people running around and chasing Barn Owls literally to death at Brunswick Point it was nice to see respectful dynamic occurring and it only takes one person sometimes to influence a whole crowd. Unfortunately even now after all the education we put out about ethical photography and birding we still see people throwing objects at roosting Long-eared and other owls.Anyways back to the rat poison we really need to get rid of this rat poison or we stand to lose more owls and not just owls Coyotes, Bobcats you name it. I remember a few years ago I found a Snowy Owl and was happy admiring it in a residential area sadly soon after it died and was tested by OWL it had been eating rats and died from rat poison. Urban owls and owls migrating through urban cities really have a hell of a time with so many pressures and odds against them with habitat loss and vehicle strikes etc. Now they aren't even safe from the food they eat.  Write your Mayors, MLAs, MP's and Emvironment Canada it is only through mass movements and us coming together that things change. This has been proven time and time again in history.

Link to today's news story HERE

Here is a previous article showing safer alternatives to rodent control.

To send an email or letter  to the Minister of the Environment click HERE

To contact Emvirobment Canada click HERE 

To contact Canadian Wildlife Service click HERE

Good birding.


  1. On Feb. 19, 2018 I emailed the government agency responsible for the government building adjacent to Maplewood Flats. They responded immediately and although the rat boxes were still there, they removed the poison and inserted snap traps on feb. 20, 2018 - the very next day. The northern saw-whet was found Feb. 23. however, the labels still remained on the boxes until this week so people were not aware the poison had been removed. The government agency had hired a contractor regarding the rat problem and were grateful that i had i informed them of the situation. although this was very unfortunate at the time, i do feel they responded in a timely and immediate manner once they knew. education is key. i see so many people on face book and social media hollering but take little action to contact and educate the offenders. It takes dialog, awareness, education and effort to make change.
    Wilma McKenzie

    1. Absolutely Wilma but we need more than this At just this level the poison is a huge problem beyond maplewood it needs to be banned and not be legal so that owls all over the city don't keep dying. I write many letters and have been for years including there I know our mutual friend Luis as well but regarding those bait boxes im not sure I believe them as those bait boxes you can't put traps inside they are strictly for poison I received a letter from them saying poison was removed and snap traps placed inside which isn't possible and would require manpower and money to check those traps daily even if it were this may have been a quick way to get us off their backs but since we can't physically go check the traps we have to take their word. Easy out for them. Regardless at least they responded. I get all my letters responded to with generic claims of we care we will try but no real promises that change it legally. It's killing far more than owls and is extremely cruel way for even the rats to die.
      Poison can stay in an owls system for 6 weeks at least and in mice 8 weeks so even though rat poison may have been removed before the saw Whet died it makes little difference to the fact he most likely died from it.


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