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Local wildlife expert: Federally protected birds under threat from rat traps

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – More and more federally protected birds are under threat from rat traps.

Local wildlife agencies are seeing a shocking number of wildlife accidentally killed by rat poison, so a local expert is trying to warn others.   

Last week, Justin Matthews got a call to save an injured hawk found on a sidewalk. He’s seen this play out numerous times before and has had enough.

“It’s just a slow death for the bird. Suffering,” said Matthews.

Matthews tells 8 On Your Side the culprit was a rat trap containing rodenticide. The hawk is now being treated and struggling to recover. Many others don’t survive.

“The rats go in there and they nibble on it, the poison, they come out and stagger around, and then a hawk nails him, eats him, and then he starts showing signs very quickly of being poisoned himself,” said Matthews.

These traps are used by pest control companies or found in stores.

The package itself warns it could kill wildlife like birds of prey. They’re federally protected and vital to the ecosystem.

Cornell University says the poison causes internal bleeding and treatment takes weeks or months. So please be very mindful before buying a rat trap.

The poison also impacts pets, and other animals.

“It’s very harmful, been seeing it for years,” said Matthews.

Matthews will soon start a petition, asking pest control companies to avoid using these traps.

There are things you can do to help too.

Officials say these rat traps should be used indoors or away from other wildlife.

There are also alternative pest control products that are safer for birds. But Matthews points out you can always rely on mother nature.

“If they would stop putting poison outside, they’re not going to have much of a rat problem outside because the birds of prey are going to kill the rats,” he said.

Ultimately, officials say if you ever have a problem with rodents, be mindful of its impact on other birds.

Be sure to have a talk with your pest control expert.

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