A Facebook user shared a photo of an owl found dead in Oak Bay on Sunday, Aug. 23 – the third known to have died in the region since November 2019 – and advocates suspect rat poison is to blame. (Photo submitted by Fred Haynes)

Third dead owl found in Greater Victoria, Saanich mayor suspects rat poisoning

Barred owl found dead in Oak Bay on Aug. 23

Advocates believe rat poison is again to blame for the death of a Greater Victoria owl after a third dead bird was discovered.

A Facebook user shared a photo of an owl found dead in Oak Bay on Sunday, Aug. 23 – the third owl known to have died in the area since November 2019 – and advocates suspect rat poison as the cause.

John Tucker shared the photo on the Oak Bay Local Facebook page explaining the owl was found that morning and that the cause of death was unclear. Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is fairly certain rat poison was the cause.

RELATED: Saanich bans use of rat poison in bid to save owls

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“One has to think this is linked to the ongoing issues of rodenticide poisonings,” Haynes said, pointing to two other incidents involving owls killed by suspected rat poisoning in Saanich.

In November 2019, an barred owl was found dead at the foot of its roosting tree near the Kings Road greenspace. A Ministry of Agriculture necropsy report showed the owl had two commercial-grade rat poisons in its system.

On April 15, a great horned owl fell and died near a construction site on Kings Road. Toxicology results showed it had consumed three different rat poisons.

In July, Saanich banned rodenticide use at its municipal facilities and is pushing for the province to take action to enact an outright ban.

“I am working with other municipalities to encourage the province to tighten regulations of [rodenticide] use and ban them for more humane systems,” Haynes said.

Earlier this month, North Saanich council voted to ban rodenticide use in their facilities and Colwood council will be looking at a similar decision in the next few weeks

Deanne Pfeifer, a member of the Owl Watch BC hopes to have a necropsy done on the latest owl. Rat poison stays active for more than 100 days and so burying or disposing of a dead animal improperly could put other scavengers at risk. Pfeifer asks that anyone who comes across a dead owl in the region call her at 250-514-2860 or email dgpfeifer@shaw.ca – for guidance.

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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

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