The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center, an accredited non-profit sanctuary dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife that has been injured, displaced, and orphaned, is sounding the alarm about a troubling new trend pertaining to the local coyote population.
More specifically, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is seeing an alarming number of cases of fatal or near-fatal illness caused by the use of residential rodenticides in an attempt to keep rodents away from homes. It reports that these calls have primarily been clustered in the Sun City area.
The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center’s rescue line has had numerous calls reporting coyotes that were looking sick, not moving, and covered with patches of thick skin and hair loss. In one of its more recent cases, a postal worker in Sun City found a coyote laying lifelessly in a pile of its own fur, vomit, and feces. While volunteers with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center were able to bring it to a clinic and initiate treatment, it died soon afterward.
The Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center characterizes these cases of sicknesses as mange, which has been directly linked to rodenticide use. The chemicals in rodenticide cause suppressed immunity, making coyotes and other wild animals more susceptible to infection from the parasitic mites that cause mange. It can impact both wild and domestic animals.
Although some cases of rodenticide-facilitated mange are curable, especially if caught early, the vast majority are caught too late for the animal to survive. In addition, removing the animal from the wild and putting it through intense treatment does not always result in a releasable coyote; they may become too used to humans or too weak to ever survive on their own. Additionally, the chemicals in rodenticide can spread throughout the food chain; it often starts with rats and small animals, then transfers to coyotes and, bobcats and eventually ends up plaguing mountain lions and owls.
Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center is making a public plea to both the public and to pest control companies to decrease their use of rodenticide and suggests other effective yet dramatically less harmful methods of pest control.
“We recommend you start with prevention and that means eliminating any food sources such as bird seed, pet food, or fallen fruit that may attract rats,” said Taylor Blackden, marketing and events coordinator at Southwest Wildlife. “We also recommend sealing holes in roofs and around pipes or electrical cables to prevent rats from getting into homes and keeping indoor and outdoor spaces clean in order to effectively diagnose pest concerns quickly.”
As a last resort, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center recommends setting a rat trap or having a pest control company do so; electrical shock traps are recommended as the most humane option. Lastly, it asks residents to spread the word to neighbors and community about the threat of rodenticides and inform them of non-harmful ways to eliminate pests.
In order to fully understand the threat that rodenticide poses to our wildlife, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center invites you to visit for a tour and meet Felix and Zia, orphaned mountain lions whose mother died from rodenticide. Proceeds go directly towards the rescue, rehabilitation, release, and sanctuary of injured and abandoned wildlife in Arizona. You can book a tour at www.southwestwildlife.org/book-a-tour/tours.
To make a donation or for more information, please visit www.southwestwildlife.org/donate.