Many locals know about the nesting pair of bald eagles at north lido beach park. Eagles are monogamous meaning the pair stays together for life. They also return to the same nest year after year. Last year, the pair had an eagles that was just about old enough to fledge, or leave the nest. Unfortunately right before it was ready to fly it died, it’s body was still visible in the nest. The presumed cause was second-hand rodenticide poisoning.
This year the eagle pair had two chicks. Again they were about 6 weeks old, not yet old enough to fly but definitely old enough that they were likely to make it to fledging. Unfortunately monitors and observers watching the nest noted the adults bringing in rats to feed the chicks. A few days later, the eaglets were no longer observed. For weeks now many have questioned the cause for this years eaglet failure and it again seems the likely cause is death by rodenticide poisoning.
Many people do not realize the way that rat poison can rise up the food chain so I wanted to take some time to send out this informational message in hopes that it may educate some and prevent further death to our local eagle pair.
When a rat ingests poison it doesn’t die immediately. Instead it dies slowly, and can wander around weak. This makes it easier prey for raptors (birds of prey like hawks, owls and eagles). The eagle may find the rat, capture it and bring it to its nest to feed the chicks or feed on it itself. Unfortunately ingesting a poisoned rat also poisons the bird. This is a process called bioaccumulation, the toxins transfer through the food chain.
When a bird eats a poisoned rat it causes a horrible and slow death; the rat poison is an anticoagulant and causes the bird to bleed out (https://www.epa.gov/rodenticides/restrictions-rodenticide-products)
There are many articles about the issue of rodenticides and their effects on wildlife and domestic pets. It is an issue nationally but here locally on Lido we have seen the impacts two years running, in the sudden death of otherwise healthy eaglets.
So if you live in a complex please ask what methods of pest control are being used and if it is rat poison please urge for alternative, eco-friendly methods to be used instead.
I have recently learned that St. Armands has rat bait boxes around the circle and am going to speak to the commissioners about the issue at the upcoming meeting on 3/7.
Below are some photos taken of the eaglets this year before they perished. Including a photo that shows the adult taking a rat to the nest. Dead rats have also been found in the vicinity of the nest. Unfortunately the only hope in fixing this issue is for the community to stand together against harmful pesticide use.
For more information you can easily Google: rodenticide poisoning in birds. Also this website: https://www.raptorsarethesolution.org/got-rats/ is a resource to educate about the impacts of rat poison on raptors.
Local wildlife biologist and bird lover
March 8, 2022
The City's Parks & Recreation Director responded that the City uses a nontoxic product for rodent control.