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U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service Facts on Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning in Wildlife Presented by: U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service and National Fish &Wildlife Foundation

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Presentation Transcript
slide1

U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service

Facts on Secondary Pentobarbital

Poisoning in Wildlife

Presented by:

U.S. Fish &Wildlife Service

and

National Fish &Wildlife Foundation

slide2

Each year, a number of eagles, other wildlife, and dogs are poisoned after eating tissues of pentobarbital euthanized carcasses.

Improper disposal gives scavenging animals access to carcasses.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Richard Stroud/USFWS

slide3

In recent years, at least 140 bald and golden eagles have been intoxicated after eating pentobarbital- tainted carcasses.

Photo Courtesy of USFWS

slide5

Others wandered into traffic, drowned, or were killed by predation, mobbing attacks, or electrocution

after contact

with power

lines.

Peter Carboni/USFWS

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Which animals are affected by secondary poisoning?

  • Most reported cases involve eagles.
  • All scavenging animals are potentially at risk if they have access to a pentobarbital-tainted carcass.
a variety of other species have been poisoned including domestic dogs
A variety of other species have been poisoned, including domestic dogs.

USFWS

Gary Stolz/ USFWS

Dr. Kirsten Krueger/Habitat & Animal Health Concern

James Leupold/ USFWS

other susceptible avian scavengers
Other Susceptible Avian Scavengers
  • California condors
  • Vultures
  • Hawk species
  • Wood storks
  • Gulls
  • Crows
  • Ravens

Gary Kramer/ USFWS

susceptible mammalian scavengers
Susceptible Mammalian Scavengers
  • Bears
  • Martens & fishers
  • Lynxes
  • Foxes
  • Bobcats
  • Cougars

Jim Frates/ USFWS

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How do animals gain access to poisoned carcasses?

  • Carcasses of euthanized large animals are inadvertently left exposed on farms or ranches
    • Poor communication between veterinarian & animal owner
    • Owner does not realize carcass is poisonous
  • Other sources of secondary poisoning
    • Small animal carcasses deposited in landfills
    • Carcasses acquired to feed captive carnivores
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In many instances, euthanized carcasses were left out in the field to be scavenged. A golden eagle died after feeding on this carcass.

Steve Magone/ USFWS

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In other cases, landfill scavengers have been poisoned by carcasses that were not quickly covered over.

Andy Buhl/ USFWS

poisonings due to accidental feeding of tainted meat to captive animals have also been reported
Poisonings due to accidental feeding of tainted meat to captive animals have also been reported.

Larry Moats/ USFWS

USFWS

Gary Stolz/ USFWS

Gary Stolz/ USFWS

slide14

Poisoning of eagles or other wild birds, even if accidental, violates Federal law!

Jamie Richie/ USFWS

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Applicable Federal wildlife protection laws include:

  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act
  • Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
  • Endangered Species Act

Photo Courtesy of USFWS

federal wildlife protection laws

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) protects virtually all wild avian species in North America, including parts, eggs & nests.

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act) protects eagles and their parts, eggs & nests.

Endangered Species Act (ESA) protects threatened & endangered species & critical habitat.

Federal Wildlife Protection Laws
what are the possible penalties for violating these laws

Penalties sought are based on the circumstances surrounding a case.

The laws provide for substantial fines and prison sentences in criminal cases.

For example, the maximum fine for violating the Eagle Act is $100,000 for a person or $200,000 for an organization and one year in prison.

Civil fines up to $25,000 are also possible.

What are the possible penalties for violating these laws?
how is liability determined under federal wildlife laws

Under MBTA, “intent” is not required for criminal conviction. A person who poisons a bird, even unintentionally, may be held criminally liable.

Under ESA and Eagle Act, unintentionally poisoning a protected species is a civil violation.

Criminal convictions under ESA & Eagle Act require that violation be “knowingly” committed.

How is liability determined under Federal wildlife laws?
who is liable when a protected species dies from secondary pentobarbital poisoning

Veterinarians may be liable under MBTA, ESA, and Eagle Act for poisoning a protected species.

In recent cases, both livestock owner & attendingveterinarian have been fined for “involuntary killing” of eagles.

Who is liable when a protected species dies from secondary pentobarbital poisoning?
how can secondary poisoning be prevented
How can secondary poisoning be prevented?
  • If possible, incinerate carcasses.
  • Alternatively, immediately bury carcasses deeply in the field.
  • When ground is frozen, cover or store carcasses to prevent access by scavenging animals.
  • Review and modify local landfill practices to prevent scavenger access to euthanized carcasses.
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How can veterinarians prevent secondary poisonings?

  • Notify clients about need for proper carcass disposal.
  • Label carcasses with a prominent “POISON” tag.
  • Include a carcass disposal warning on the euthanasia consent form.

© Habitat & Animal Health Concern

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Veterinarians must inform clients that a pentobarbital-euthanized carcass is poisonous and requires proper disposal.

The client needs to know that the carcass can poison and kill scavenging animals, including federally protected species, other wildlife, or even pet dogs.

Photo Courtesy of USFWS

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Euthanasia by pentobarbital injection is a humane way to end the suffering of a sick animal. But this compassionate act can cause the premature deaths of other animals if the euthanized carcass is left exposed.

Only veterinarians may use pentobarbital euthanasia preparations. They must make every effort to keep this poison from harming other animals.

Gary Stolz/USFWS

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For further information, read the USFWS Fact Sheet on Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning in Wildlife or contact your local USFWS law enforcement office.

Mike Lockart/ USFWS