Esquimalt eliminates use of rat poison hours after owl found dead at Saxe Point

Esquimalt eliminates use of rat poison hours after owl found dead at Saxe Point

Esquimalt Council voted in favour of recommendations to eliminate the use of anticoagulant rodenticides and is calling on the province to do the same.

The unanimous vote Monday night comes hours after a male Barred Owl was discovered deceased in Saxe Point Park, with concerns it died from ingesting rat poison.

An Esquimalt Parks employee found the owl around 1:30 p.m. Monday and those who looked over the owl say there are no signs of predatory injury.

The owl, which is well known to park users along with its mate, is also said to have shown no illness prior to its death.

A necropsy will be performed.

On Monday night, Esquimalt council was made aware of the owl’s death, as it voted in favour of four recommendations related to anticoagulant rodenticides.

The recommendations include eliminating the use of rodenticides on all township-owned properties and directing staff to communicate information with residents and businesses on the impacts of industrial rat poison and the availability of ecologically sustainable alternatives.

Council also voted to move forward on the recommendations to incorporate humane practices regarding pest control in all Esquimalt properties and for the Mayor to write to the provincial environment ministry to introduce a province-wide ban on the use of rat poison for wildlife protection.

The male and female Barred Owls have been described as “stars” of Saxe Point, where they have been viewed by many over the past few years, including raising two owlets.

“I’ve been watching them every morning, when I come to work, I do my rounds in the park, I see where they are and observe them, it sort of became part of my life,” said Katja Martinelli, the employee that found the owl Monday.

“And discovering this was absolutely heart-breaking.”

The owl’s death Monday, although not confirmed to be the result of ingesting rat poison, is raising calls on the province to ban anticoagulant rodenticides.

“We’re not just talking about the owls and the hawks. It’s killing pets. We’ve linked up with veterinarians and talked to them and the numbers are staggering,” said Deanna Pfeifer with Rodenticide Free BC.

“It’s an agonizingly slow death that happens to them. The government has known about these dangers for decades it’s just shocking that this has not been banned already.”

The District of Saanich voted in favour of a similar ban last July.


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