Caught between a dumpster and a hard place
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and that notion may speak true for wildlife in the city as well. When I first snapped this photograph, I had the satisfied feeling of the urban ecosystem at work and was hopeful that other raptors in the city were also out providing balance through the culling of the non-native and invasive Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). What soon dawned on me was the possibility of this Red-Tailed Hawk's exposure to second-generation rodenticide poisoning. I decided to educate myself and found a study done in Massachusetts that examined 161 raptors between 2006-2010 – of those examined, 139 (an astounding 86%) tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides. Even worse, these second-generation rodenticides can bioaccumulate in an ecosystem and cause more widespread problems. It’s a complicated issue, but ultimately I feel it’s imperative that major cities like Toronto start coming up with more innovative ways to eliminate rats with a focus on protecting urban wildlife – perhaps part of the solution is right in front of us in fostering raptor populations in urban areas as biological controls – otherwise, our current efforts to stimulate urban ecosystems without addressing this issue may come at a price.
Image dimensions: 3590 x 2393 pixels