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By Owlet
Hello everyone!

I think that it would be great to discuss conservation issues on this forum. Although this forum may get a little sleepy at times it is still probably the best place to communicate back and forth about bird ID, photography, issues, etc... We could even start getting people to come back to the forum :D !

I wouldn't be surprised at all if many of you have heard about this, but in case you haven't, here it is:

Let's start off with a local one that I learned about on my most recent visit to the Maplewood Flats (which seems to be quite a good birding spot this winter!) a few weeks ago. As many of you know, the Northern Pygmy Owl that was spending much of it's time near the pumphouse at Maplewood passed away because of rat poisoning. This is because the rats, who consume the poison become slow and lethargic, meaning easy pickings for the local owls and other species who feed on them. The consumer and the rat both die from the poison, and is becoming an extremely serious problem for owls in the Lower Mainland such as Barn and Northern-Pygmy.

Well, where is this rat poison coming from? Have you guys ever noticed that futuristic-looking shiny federal government building located right next to the parking lot at Maplewood? Well turns out that the entire building's perimeter is lined with poisonous rat traps! It just struck me as absolutely shocking for a facility to be allowed to do this right next to a extremely important protected area.

What do you guys think?

I would love to hear ideas on what we, the birding community, should do about this problem!
By jewill
Oh my! Don't get me going. As some of you may know I am an active volunteer with OWL (Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society) contributing in both bird care and in the public education program. I see the effects of secondary poisoning in raptors who have consumed poisoned rodents far too often. The current weapon of choice is bait boxes containing Bromadiolone, a chemical that is 100 times more powerful than Warfarin which was previously used. It causes the poisoned rodent to essentially bleed to death internally however, and here's the problem, it can take several days to actually kill the animal. While the poison is doing it's job, the rodent becomes weaker and weaker making it an attractive prey target for raptors and other animals (like household cats and many others who like to dine on mice and such). These "non-target" animals are in turned poisoned, and it is a gruesome, painful death, again taking several days. No animal should have to die like that, not even a rat!
What can we in the birding community do? Since these bait boxes are so convenient for the user, basically just set it and forget it, it comes down to awareness. Suggesting alternatives like snap traps or electric shock boxes which are not favoured because they have to be regularly monitored, reset and emptied if needed. The best rodent control is, of course, raptors. Let them do the job they are so well adapted to do. A family of Barn Owls (2 adults & 4 owlets) can consume upwards of 100 mice each and every day!! That's thousands of mice in 1 year, a statistic that poison can't even come close to. I realize that it may not be practical to rely on owls in many situations but that's where the non-poison traps come in and educating the public to remove what is attracting the rodents in the first place. Since their main concern is finding food for themselves and their family we have to remove food attractants and seal up any access points to warm cozy breeding environments. We need to make the general public, golf courses, parks, restaurants, office buildings, townhouse and condo complexes (the list goes on and on) aware of the consequences and of the alternatives.
Rather than continuing with my rant (I've probably said too much already) I will leave a couple of links for you to check out.
The 1st is a recent article in the Province newspaper: ... e=Facebook

2nd is a fact sheet on Bromadiolone:

And last is the OWL Facebook page which regularly includes information on rodenticides and other dangers to wildlife like lead poisoning: ... e_internal

Thanks for hearing me out and thanks for bringing this important topic up Adam. It needs to be discussed.
By revs
Adam, thank you for taking the time to write about this important issue.
It was a hot topic on Facebook recently, and many letters to MLA'S and the people in charge of the building were written and sent.
They listened and said that as soon as the issue was brought to their attention they changed to snap traps inside the black boxes now instead of poison.
At lot of people myself included were quite upset about the carelessness of using poison in an area that is heavily hunted by natural predators and even more when the black boxes were still in place after the uproar.

Owlet, i wish more people would come back to the forum, because like you say its a great forum for communication and sharing pics!
Everything kind of went off the rails there for a bit but i came back and others can too!
By Robert
That's the second pygmy owl this year; another one was found a couple kilometers up the road at Ravenwoods. Recently there was also a sahwet owl.
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By Owlet
Thanks everyone for your opinions!

I haven't heard of Bromadiolone until you talked about it , Judy. Read the article and it definitely sounds like something that shouldn't be in our ecosystems, let alone right next to a conservation area! Thanks for mentioning it. I bet they are countless other chemicals being used for pest control that are harmful for the environment.

Is anyone aware of some sort of petition against banning bromadiolone in BC or Canada? (or any other harmful chemicals used to kill "pests"?) since this is, according to information from many people, is a widespread problem accross BC, if not Canada, the Americas and the world.

Thanks everyone!
By jewill
This is something that I feel very strongly about mainly because it’s so preventable. I personally have picked up several dying or already dead Barn, Barred, Great Horned and Saw-whet owls, Coopers as well as Red-tailed Hawks and Bald eagles all due to secondary poisoning. They came from farms, golf courses and residential areas. One in particular comes to mind was from last year – I was sent (by OWL) to a very nice couple’s home in rural Surrey to pick up a dead owl. They ran a small hobby farm with goats, chickens, etc. and were lucky enough to have a nesting pair of Barn owls on their property who pretty much took care of the rodent population. Last winter, with all the snow, they found that the rats had irrupted and in desperation they purchased a couple of Bromadiolone bait boxes being assured by the retailer that it would not harm the owls only the rodents. Well guess what I picked up…2 dead Barn owls. They were heartbroken (as was I) but their story is not unique. The retailers want to sell their product so that’s what they tell people. Knowledge is power and this couple has now promised to never use poison again. Hopefully another pair of Barn owls will soon take up residence at their farm.
It is going to take a massive effort to get this stuff banned, much like what happened with DDT. The Peregrine Falcon was taken to the brink of extinction because of DDT poisoning in the 60’s and 70’s and was declared an endangered species in 1970. DDT was banned in 1972 (in North America only; it’s still used today in some countries) and by 1999, thanks in large part to captive breeding programs in both the US and Canada, the Peregrine Falcon was removed from the Endangered Species list although it is still protected. I worry because the current administration in the US is rolling back environmental legislation aimed at protecting wildlife and what happens in the US directly affects what happens here in Canada.
I am not aware of any petitions in BC or Canada to deal with this. There is no safe poison, so even if Bromadiolone is banned, something else will take its place. I’ll say it again: Knowledge is power. If enough people stand up and say something to their city, provincial and federal governments, slowly things will start to change. I tend to concentrate locally so whenever I get the chance (like now) I speak to people about this very matter and I have sent letters to my own Strata council (yes, embarrassingly the building that I live in uses bait boxes as do most condos) but it is an uphill battle. There is a ton of information available online; by simply Googling “Bromadiolone” you will be presented with many different sites, all with good information. Here is just one: ... have-safer (this is a bit of a long read, but well worth it)
Thank you again. End of rant #2.
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By Owlet
Hey everyone!

Thanks for your opinions on bromadiolone. I'll spread the info!

I heard they are trying to cut down deciduous forest in Inter-river park to create another soccer field. Like how many do you need?? Anyways, I can't do much since I don't live in North Van, and I think that this development is a North Van thing. Anyways, what do you guys, especially you North vanners out there.

Currently at a Mexican restaurant :D

By revs
Owlet wrote:Hey everyone!

Thanks for your opinions on bromadiolone. I'll spread the info!

I heard they are trying to cut down deciduous forest in Inter-river park to create another soccer field. Like how many do you need?? Anyways, I can't do much since I don't live in North Van, and I think that this development is a North Van thing. Anyways, what do you guys, especially you North vanners out there.

Currently at a Mexican restaurant :D

Inter-river used to have Lazuli Bunting nest there, other interesting birds to be found there as well, i hit up that area about once a month or more in springtime.
I think it comes down to money, normal people can't even walk on the fields because the district charges money to use them. So for the average north shore-dweller there is no benefit to them unless they are part of a soccer league.
By whanem
Hello Judy and all,

For some years I was involved with public interest lobby here in Vancouver. Our group avoided petitions, because experienced members knew, and some of the officials we were lobbying let it be known, that petitions are the weakest means of exerting political influence. Powers-that-be rightly regard them as being easy to sign; they are not taken as an indication of much conviction. If members here wish to mount a lobby to ban use of bromodiolone (or equally dangerous poisons) to kill rats, letters and e-mails sent to appropriate officials are more likely to get attention than a petition. Speaking at public meetings like the all candidates meetings for City Council and Park Board in Vancouver (or any other municipality in BC - all have elections this fall) is particularly worth doing, especially if the speakers are seen to represent a larger collective.

City governments offer the best chance to influence. Getting the City of Vancouver to renounce use of bromodiolone and pass a bylaw forbidding its use on any City property (including streets and alleys), would be huge. If home and condo owners knew they were prohibited from setting a bait box in their alley, they may have pause about putting them elsewhere.

If there is no existing organisation that can accomodate an active lobby in the interest of the wild things that are struggling to survive in Vancouver, then one should be formed. Such a lobby group for Vancouver could also work toward other goals -

Declaration of the Stanley Park foreshore as a bird sanctuary from November 1 to May 1 (no people or dogs below the sea wall) .

The posting of signage around the same foreshore to inform people of the area's importance to migratory and wintering waterfowl.

A limitation on the water traffic allowed to motor in False Creek from June 1 to September 1, when the areas beneath the Granville, and normally, the Burrard Bridge, is pelagic cormorant preschool. At least, signage posted to inform humans that the space under the Granville Bridge (and normally the Burrard Bridge) is important to the conservation of these birds on the lower coast of BC.

I digress, sorry. But an anti-bromodialone lobby is certainly worth mounting. And in British Columbia, all municipalities will be electing new governments on October 20, 2018. From now until then is the time to do it.

By jewill
Hi whanem -
For the most part I agree that petitions carry very little weight with politicians however you have to start somewhere and it’s better than nothing. I always say that when people stand-by and say or do nothing about whatever issue is in front of them, it means that they agree with what is going on.
Getting people to write letters or emails is a difficult task, let alone getting them to show up at a city hall meeting to speak. Having said that though I’m going to contradict myself - I live in Surrey who’s motto appears to be “See a tree? Cut it down!”. This past spring a development proposal was put before council to cut down 55 of the trees in the green space behind the condo I live in so a parking lot could be built to accommodate the business park next door (insert classic Joni Mitchell song here - you have to be old enough to know what I mean :wink:). Long story short - we got 140 signatures on a petition, 20 residents wrote letters to city council and 6, including myself, spoke at the meeting when the proposal was brought forward. We won!! Our trees are safe (at least for now) and the developer has to go back and re-think the proposal.
Anyway, we are in the process of mounting the same type of campaign to all of the strata councils in the immediate area (we are surrounded by townhouses and condos, very few houses are left). They all use Bromadiolone bait boxes so we are going to start softly by simply asking them to stop and consider the consequences. We will see how that goes and most likely will have to ramp it up to get them to listen. Like I’s a start.
Thank you for posting your comments and I wish you well with your battle re Stanley Park foreshore and the bridges. In other posts I have stated that I do not like to drive in Vancouver so I haven’t been to Stanley Park in several years. I have heard about the cormorants nesting under the bridges and members here have posted many pictures of the variety of ducks that inhabit the foreshore. They are all definitely worth fighting for.
By whanem
A footnote to my earlier post, for Vancouver residents:
The Vancouver park board is conducting a review of rodenticides after Postmedia News revealed that the placement of poisoned-bait boxes around restaurants and other park buildings could result in the secondary poisoning of owls and other wildlife attracted to parks.
[END QUOTE] ... denticides
The article, from the Vancouver Sun, is dated February 26, 2018. Vancouver Park Board Minutes of Meetings for 2018, posted on line, show no evidence of this. Fake news? Surely not. Seems that from now to the civic election in October would be a good time to press this issue.

By Robert
At Maplewood a sign has been put up that says rodenticides are not used.
By jewill
Well at least the Vancouver Park Board seems to be thinking about the issue. I hope they continue on with some affirmative action.
Maplewood and that building next to it have stopped using poison due to the death of the Pygmy Owl. It’s unfortunate that it had to go that far but at least something has been done.
There will continue to be more public awareness campaigns through OWL and RATS (Raptors Are The Solution) There is a lot of information on their site including lots of free, downloadable posters and fact sheets. They will soon be running an ad campaign on Vancouver’s transit system: ... =3&theater
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