It has now been almost nine months since I, along with three others found a barred owl in a North Vancouver City park in obvious distress. It was bleeding out as a result of eating contaminated rodents.
I discovered that in attempting to keep restaurants and shops free of rodents, businesses and residences use poisons (anticoagulant rodenticides) in the form of black bait boxes, whose affect reaches far beyond their intended target.
Besides owls and other raptors who prey on rodents, bears, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, bobcats, skunks, dogs, cats and in some cases, even children have been targets of these poisons.
No animal is exempt from their horrific effects. Since then, I have been advocating for a provincial ban of these substances.
On June 15, 2020, the District of North Vancouver passed a motion to ban the public use of anticoagulant rodenticides, leading a ripple effect of change within municipalities in the Province.
I am happy to report that the City of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver also agreed to the ban last year.
Our beautiful North Shore is one step closer to being poison-free.
Other BC communities that have followed suit are: The District of Saanich, The District of North Saanich, The City of New Westminster, The City of Colwood, The District of Sooke, The Township of Esquimalt, The City of Port Moody, The District of Oak Bay, The City of Coquitlam and The Town of Qualicum Beach. The City of Richmond and the City of Delta are both considering the ban.
While this is a great start, the problem is far from being eliminated. Sadly, our owls are still suffering from the private use of black bait boxes. This is why a provincial ban on rodenticide use is vital and necessary.
Two months ago, I was invited to the release of a barred owl who happened to be found in the same vicinity as Lucky (the barred owl I rescued eight months ago). Both owls were poisoned by rodenticides and dying a slow death. While Lucky was in rehab for a month, this other owl took six months to recover.
Even upon his release, he still had a bit of a head tilt, the result of sustained poisoning. Another innocent creature was made to suffer because of human actions. This has to stop.
While numerous organizations have been educating the public about the harmful effects of rodenticides; introducing more humane ways of dealing with the rodent population; we still have a long way to go in reaching the private users of these substances.
Owls are still dying. That is a fact.
For decades, we have been destroying our precious ecosystem by laying down these poisons, but collectively we can make a change and help to restore its balance.
To date, the petition has gained over 12,000 signatures. https://www.change.org/p/ban-rat-poisons-in-british-columbia
I am thankful to all who have added their name in support of this cause. Please sign and share if you haven’t already. We need your voice to make a change.
An actor, animal advocate and activist, Yasmin Abidi lives in the District of North Vancouver.