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Poisons from marijuana farms pose hazard to California owls

Cara J

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The poisons that California marijuana growers use to kill rodents are moving through the food web, recent research found, and may be negatively impacting threatened northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina), as well as invasive barred owls (Strix varia). The birds are consuming prey contaminated with rodenticide, researchers found, indicating that the chemicals may be reaching a variety of non-target species. Previous studies demonstrated contamination in fishers. “One objective of the study was to see if we can use species like spotted owls to investigate if the food web is contaminated,” said Mourad Gabriel, lead author of the study published in Avian Conservation and Ecology. A TWS member and the director of the Integral Ecology Research Center and research faculty member at the University of California, Davis, Gabriel and his colleagues collected owl samples in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties, where growing numbers of both permitted and unpermitted farms are serving either licensed marijuana sellers or the black market. In Humboldt County alone, county officials estimate that upwards of 12,700 private grows are unpermitted and illegally operating, Gabriel said. With only a small percentage of private grows permitted, Gabriel said, “even if a fraction of those illegal, unpermitted grows [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/poisons-from-marijuana-farms-pose-hazard-to-california-owls/

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