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Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides in predatory birds: probabilistic characterisation of toxic liver concentrations and implications for predatory bird populations in Canada

By Philippe J. Thomas, Pierre Mineau, Richard F. Shore, Louise Champoux, Pamela A. Martin, Laurie K. Wilson, Guy Fitzgerald and John E. Elliott


Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are widely used to control rodent pests but exposure and poisonings occur in non-target species, such as birds of prey. Liver residues are often analysed to detect exposure in birds found dead but their use to assess toxicity of SGARs is problematic. We analysed published data on hepatic rodenticide residues and associated symptoms of anticoagulant poisoning from 270 birds of prey using logistic regression to estimate the probability of toxicosis associated with different liver SGAR residues. We also evaluated exposure to SGARs on a national level in Canada by analysing 196 livers from great horned owls (Bubo virginianus) and red-tailed hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) found dead at locations across the country. Analysis of a broader sample of raptor species from Quebec also helped define the taxonomic breadth of contamination. Calculated probability curves suggest significant species differences in sensitivity to SGARs and significant likelihood of toxicosis below previously suggested concentrations of concern (< 0.1 mg/kg). Analysis of birds from Quebec showed that a broad range of raptor species are exposed to SGARs, indicating that generalised terrestrial food chains could be contaminated in the vicinity of the sampled areas. Of the two species for which we had samples from across Canada, great horned owls are exposed to SGARs to a greater extent than red-tailed hawks and the liver residue levels were also higher. Using our probability estimates of effect, we estimate that a minimum of 11% of the sampled great horned owl population is at risk of being directly killed by SGARs. This is the first time the potential mortality impact of SGARs on a raptor population has been estimated.\ud \u

Topics: Zoology, Ecology and Environment
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.envint.2011.03.010
OAI identifier:

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