Wildlife Rescuers Issue Warning: Rodenticides Causing Deaths of Predators and Birds of Prey

Sarasota County, Florida – Wildlife rescuers in the Tampa Bay area are raising concerns about the harmful effects of rat poison on wild animals. Recent incidents involving the deaths of a bobcat in Safety Harbor and red-shouldered hawks in Sarasota have prompted investigations into the use of rodenticides.

In a distressing discovery, rescuers have found a red-shouldered hawk in Sarasota that was poisoned and is currently fighting for its life. The visible closing of their third eyelid, known as the nictitating membrane, is a tell-tale sign of poisoning from rodenticides in raptors like hawks.

Experts highlight the urgency of the situation, stating that more than 30 birds of prey have been treated for rodenticide poisoning at the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida this year alone. Tragically, a family of hawks, including two chicks, perished in Sarasota recently. Save Our Seabirds and WCSF took in the adult male and chicks, respectively, for treatment.

The devastation continues as additional predators, like a bobcat found dead in a tree in Safety Harbor, are believed to have succumbed to rodenticide poisoning. Wildlife rescuers stress the importance of using alternative methods, such as mechanical traps, to address rat problems without risking harm to other wildlife.

In response to these incidents, Florida FWC is conducting necropsies to determine the cause of death for the affected animals. The misuse of rat poison in residential areas underscores the need for greater awareness and responsible pest control practices to protect wild predators at the top of the food chain. Making a simple switch to safer alternatives can prevent further loss of wildlife and maintain ecological balance.