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You can help save this great horned owl family

By CHRISTINE ANDREWS - | Feb 25, 2021

SARA LOPEZ A great horned owl with a rat in its talons.

These great horned owls — an adult and a juvenile — are part of a family nesting in a residential neighborhood on Sanibel. Raptors like owls feed on rats and help control the rat population. One photo shows a rat’s carcass in the adult owl’s talons. Many homeowners and condo associations use second generation anti-coagulant rodenticides to kill rats. If the rat in the photo consumed a rodenticide that contained a second-generation anti-coagulant before it was captured, all the owls could slowly bleed to death.

You may have seen the photo of the eagle chick that was watched by many of us through the eagle cam. People noticed blood on the chick. The chick’s remains were removed from the nest by the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. CROW is testing to see if it died from eating rat poison. Red-shouldered hawk numbers have also decreased. At one time, you could not walk outside on Sanibel without hearing a red-shouldered hawk’s call. Now, you are fortunate to hear one.

First generation alternative baits are less harmful to raptors like owls, hawks and eagles. Some people use RatX, which is not an anti-coagulant and, according to the labeling, is formulated to kill rodents without harming non-target species like raptors.

For the sake of our wildlife, ask your pest control provider to explain some of the alternatives and to not to use any product that contains any of the anticoagulant rodenticides like brodifacoum and difethialone.

Call your condo association or pest control company today. Let’s save Sanibel’s wildlife.

SARA LOPEZ A juvenile great horned owl.

Christine Andrews is president of the Committee of the Islands. For more information or to become involved with the COTI, contact c.palmer.andrews@gmail.com.