Assessing Anticoagulant Rodenticide Exposure to Raptors in Texas Using Rehabilitation Admissions, Liver Analysis, and Human Dimensions Research

Date
2022
Authors
Gomez, Eres A.
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Abstract

Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are rodent poisons used for pest control however, exposure has been documented in non-target wildlife. ARs have been confirmed in raptors sampled from around the world, yet information in Texas is lacking. This study addressed this knowledge gap by: 1) Evaluating raptor rehabilitation admissions; 2) Sampling owl livers for ARs; and 3) Surveying resident rodent pest control behaviors, attitudes toward wildlife, and knowledge of AR risks before and after an educational-intervention tool was used to test whether these could be influenced to aid conservation. Results found that Great-horned Owls (Bubo virginianus) were the most frequently admitted species to rehabilitation centers, yet AR exposure was never reported as the cause of admission. In contrast, liver sampling suggested 60% (n=12) of Great-horned Owls and 20% (n=1) of Barred Owls (Strix varia) were positive for ARs, with 77% positive for multiple exposure (i.e., more than one AR) and 38.5% within the lethal range (>100-200 ng/g). Survey results found participants Strongly Agree (36%, n=68) or were Not Sure (33%, n=61) whether ARs pose a risk to owls. Following the intervention 40% Strongly Agreed. However, no change in behavioral intention to use poison was observed in response to the intervention despite an increase in participant knowledge of AR risks. These results can inform public pest control practices and spread public awareness that aims to minimize use of ARs and the potential for non-target exposure to at-risk species including raptors.

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Keywords
anticoagulant, human dimensions, human-wildlife conflict, raptor, rodenticide, wildlife rehabilitation
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Department
Integrative Biology