The number of owls dying of poisoning in B.C. more than doubled over a six-month period, according to the agriculture ministry.
Five of the owls that were necropsied from October to January had likely fatal traces of rat poison, the province told Black Press Media, compared to just two between June 2016 and July 2017.
Two owls died of poisoning in North Vancouver, while one was in Stanley Park and two were in Greater Victoria.
Caitlin Folvik, a raptor care assistant at Delta’s Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, said the facility has seen a spike in non-fatal poisonings too.
Folvik points to the uptick in development around Metro Vancouver, as mice and rats in clearcuts rush to find shelter in the bushes and trees on people’s properties.
Residents leave out poison to take care of the pests, but Folvik said rats don’t die right away after consuming the poison.
“They start to act kind of drunk and are easier for the owls to pick off.”
Other ways to get prevent a rat infestation include blocking any holes they might use to get into your house, and then if they do, to use snap traps or electric traps.
“There’s some people who use a bucket with a dowel and then the bucket falls and traps the mouse,” Folvik added.
“Coyote or fox urine can act as a deterrent too and people can buy that at hunting and game stores.”
Poisoned owls can often be saved, Folvik said. If you see one acting strangely, call the society’s 24/7 raptor rescue line at 604-946-3171.
“Lots of times, they end up getting themselves in trees and the look very sleepy and kind of dopey,” she said. “They act like they’re drunk, they wobble. Or you’ll find them drinking lots and lots of water.”