The Household Product That Killed Two Bald Eagles

An apparent attempt to poison coyotes resulted in the deaths of the birds and other animals.
One of the poisoned bald eagles. (Photo: Facebook)
May 30, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials announced Thursday that they are investigating the poisoning deaths of two bald eagles in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, last month.

The eagles weren’t the only victims. Four coyotes, one opossum, and three vultures were also found dead. Wildlife investigators believe that bait meat—a pile of meat and bones covered with poisonous black granules—intended for coyotes killed all the animals.

“Poison is an indiscriminate killer,” noted Sidney Charbonnet, a special agent for the wildlife agency, which is offering an $11,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the bald eagle deaths. “It can take out whole segments of the food chain with secondary poisonings, as well as potentially killing pet dogs or cats who may consume the bait or the poisoned wildlife.”

The United States’ national symbol was taken off the endangered species list in 2007 after its numbers soared from just 500 breeding pairs in the 1960s to as many as 10,000. Bald eagles are still under federal protection, which prohibits the capture, killing, possession, or sale of the species.

Penalties for violating the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act can land an offender in jail for up to a year, along with a $10,000 fine.

Poisoned animals often suffer a slow, painful death. The use of common rat poisons in California homes has been linked to mange in feline species. Since the rats don’t die immediately, they can be eaten by other animals that subsequently ingest the poison.

The Louisiana Humane Society pointed to more humane methods for dealing with unwanted pests, such as by securing garbage cans, keeping pet food covered, and removing fallen fruits and vegetables.