Poisoning Wildlife

photo by Liz Grogan

photo by Liz Grogan

Bad news for prairie and mountain predators: according to an article in the High Country News, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved the use of Kaput-D and Rozol, brutal rodenticides that target prairie dogs. The poisons work a bit like the Ebola virus, causing massive hemorrhaging through every pore in the rodent’s body. Upon ingestion of the poison, it may take several days or weeks for the prairie dog to die. In the meantime, the rodent gets weak and more susceptible to predators. If the predators consume a poisoned prairie dog, they could become poisoned themselves. The Center for Biological Diversity has made their stance on the poison clear: the EPA should withdraw prairie dog poisons, not approve more. Poisoning prairie dogs can have devastating effects on a wide range of animals, including: whooping cranes, American burying beetles, foxes, golden eagles, bald eagles, hawks, mountain plovers, burrowing owls, coyotes, bears, wolves, and black footed ferrets, just to name a few.

Pollution is also poisoning Rocky Mountain wildlife. An article in the Salt Lake Tribune claims that excess nitrogen due to fertilizers and vehicle exhaust is causing algae populations in Rocky Mountain lakes to boom. An excess of algae results in high-nitrogen but low-phosphorus “junk food” for fish and microorganism. The low nutrient diet threatens endangered fish species, like the cutthroat trout. Scientists are studying the impact for the rest of the mountain ecosystem in order to determine how best to solve the problem.

It’s not all doom and gloom for wildlife in the Four Corners. The Arizona Daily Sun has good news for endangered Mexican wolves. In order to increase public support for the Mexican wolf reintroduction program in Arizona, federal wildlife officials and the National Fish and Wildlife Federation have agreed to start a trust fund for ranchers in the Southwest. The fund, estimated to be a few million dollars, will both compensate ranchers for livestock losses and contribute to improved security. A Mexican wolf reintroduction program was started in 1998, with 50 wild wolves now roaming Arizona and New Mexico. Wildlife officials are hoping the trust fund will satisfy ranchers and keep them from illegally killing the wolves.

Liz Grogan