Eaglet dies from rodent poison in Massachusetts


Juvenile bald eagle in flight, Massachusetts (Photo by John Blout, provided by MassWildlife)

(WWLP) – A young eagle died of rodent poison after found suffering on the ground in Middlesex County.

According to MassWildlife, veterinarians from Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University confirmed that in late July, a young bald eagle succumbed to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide (SGAR) poisoning.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are a type of rodent poison that kills by preventing blood from clotting normally, resulting in fatal internal hemorrhage or bleeding. Wildlife can be poisoned by eating bait to poison rodents or eating prey that has consumed the bait.

Analysis of liver tissue confirmed two different SGARs were ingested by the eaglet.

It is illegal to place poisons outdoors except under highly regulated permitting conditions. SGAR poisoning cannot be sold to the general public however, it can still be purchased online for commercial use by licensed pest professionals and agricultural users.

Other rodenticides, called first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs) and non-anticoagulant rodenticides, are still approved for residential consumer use only if enclosed within a bait station.

Over 80 pairs of bald eagles nest in Massachusetts.

This is the second documented rodenticide death of an eagle in Massachusetts. The first was an adult bird that died this past March.


“Not only raptors, but many other kinds of wildlife have been the victims of unintentional rodenticide poisoning,” said Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist. “Secondary exposure to rodenticides has been documented in other animals such as foxes, bobcats, and coyotes.”

Tips on minimizing harm to wildlife

Prevent Rodent Problems:

  • Remove or safely secure any sources of food or garbage that attracts rodents.
  • Keep food for pets, poultry, and livestock in animal-proof containers.
  • Rodent-proof your home! Close off or repair any exterior openings in your home and other outbuildings that may allow rodents to enter.

Got Rodents?

  • Start with baited snap traps which provide a swift and humane death and are easy for a homeowner to use.
  • Poisons should be used only as a last resort. If using poisons, use enclosed in bait stations and follow the product label instructions.
  • Hiring a company?
    • Choose a licensed integrated pest management company that uses multiple approaches to pest control instead of relying solely on poisons.
    • You can request that the company avoid using SGAR products including brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, or difethialone.

If you find a wild animal, leave it alone. Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if you see an animal with an injury or illness.

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