Native owls, lizards dying after eating animals poisoned with Ratsak

ABC News

Source: ABC News

A Western Australian wildlife carer is urging people to stop using a well-known brand of rodenticide because it is killing native owls and lizards who eat poisoned mice and rats.

Michelle Jones of GG Wildlife Rescue in Geraldton takes in sick and injured native animals to recover and then release back to the wild. In the past month, she has seen five native owl species that were poisoned by Ratsak and only one survived. "The ones that come in are the lucky ones," she said.

Some of the most common species Ms Jones has seen poisoned have been the southern boobook owl, the barn owl and black-shouldered kites.

"A lot of the ones that don't make it here will die a really slow and horrible, painful death, sadly, out in the bush."

Key points:

  • Owls are dying or getting seriously ill from eating mice and rats poisoned by rodenticides 
  • A wildlife carer is calling on the community to stop using poisons and start letting natural predators like owls and lizards do their job 
  • She said the best way to get rid of mice and rats is to look after their predators

The one that survived is still in care and when it has returned to a healthy weight it will be released in the same location it was found.

Alternatives to Poisons

Ms Jones said at this time of the year it can be common to see more vermin, meaning an increase in the use of poisonings.

Not only can rodenticides be fatal to native owls, but also to native lizard species.

"I don't think they realise that the second degree poison is actually killing and making a lot of native species really sick," she said.

Ms Jones said there are other options that can be used to get rid of mice and rats, like traps, or simply ensuring that you clean up anything that could be a food supply like bird seed.

"There is another product you can use that is a little bit more expensive. You can get that, and that doesn't have much of an effect on the wildlife around."
Picture of a white and brown barn owl, full length with an off-white background.

Michelle Jones was able to save this barn owl after it was brought to her with suspected rodenticide poisoning.(Supplied: GG Wildlife Rescue)

Nature's pest control

Some of the most common species Ms Jones has seen poisoned have been the southern boobook owl, the barn owl and black-shouldered kites

"You're really doing something that inadvertently is going to affect the ecology and the ecosystem on your property for future generations."

Michelle Jones wears khaki clothes, a leather bush hat and holds a large lizard. She's got a big smile on her face.

Michelle Jones rescues all animals big and small and aims to rehabilitate them to release them back into their natural habitat.(Supplied: GG Wildlife Rescue Inc)

Ms Jones said the best way to get rid of mice and rats is to look after their predators.

"What we are killing, if you've got them on your property … these guys are natural predators for rats and mice," she said.

"By killing one of them off you are actually killing something that is going to continue to keep catching the rodents around your property for years to come.

"You're really doing something that inadvertently is going to affect the ecology and the ecosystem on your property for future generations."

Picture of barn owl in cardboard box sitting on some towels.


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