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Young bald eagle dies in Massachusetts after consuming rodent poison

A bald eagle is perched on a rock in the Blackstone River on April 21.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

A young bald eagle in Massachusetts died in late July after consuming rodent poison, according to MassWildlife officials and veterinarians from Tufts University’s Cummings Veterinary Medical Center.

The female fledgling eaglet was in “obvious distress” when she was found on the ground in Middlesex County and was taken to Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton where she died, MassWildlife officials said in a statement. Results from a necropsy and toxicology test showed the cause of death was due to “lethal levels of anticoagulant rodenticides,” officials said.

Anticoagulant rodenticides are a type of rodent poison that prevents blood from clotting normally, and wildlife can consume them by eating the bait directly or eating prey that consumed the bait.


This was the second documented rodenticide death of an eagle in Massachusetts, according to MassWildlife officials. The first was an adult eagle that died in March on the Charles River, also in Middlesex County.

Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s state ornithologist, said kinds of wildlife, as well as dogs and cats, are vulnerable to this type of rodent poison.

“Not only raptors, but many other kinds of wildlife have been the victims of unintentional rodenticide poisoning,” Vitz said in a statement. “Secondary exposure to rodenticides has been documented in other animals such as foxes, bobcats, and coyotes.”

In order to prevent further incidents, officials from MassWildlife and Tufts Wildlife Clinic advise the public to rodent-proof their homes by keeping sources of food and garbage secure and closing off exterior openings where rodents can enter. Homeowners who are dealing with rodent problems should use baited snap traps that kill rodents right away, or choose a licensed pest management company that uses multiple approaches instead of relying solely on poisons, officials said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.