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Death Of Popular Hawk Highlights Concerns Over Rat Poison09:06

This article is more than 5 years old.

The death of a beloved red-tailed hawk in Cambridge, Mass., has drawn attention to the issue of how rat poison is affecting wildlife.

Veterinarians say the hawk likely died from eating a rodent that consumed rat poison. Local birdwatchers had followed the exploits of the hawk and her mate, which they named Ruby and Buzz, for years.

The state of California recently announced a ban on the retail sale of certain rat poisons, known as second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), because of the hazards they pose to pets, children and wildlife. California officials say rat poison is responsible for thousands of wildlife animal deaths in at least 25 different species of animals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has also recommended a retail ban on SGARs. Both bans are being challenged in court.

Veterinarian Justine Lee of St. Paul, Minn., tells Here & Now's Robin Young that 100,000 people call poison control centers after their pets have eaten rat poison.

Lee believes people should opt for snap traps instead of poison, because they are ultimately more humane and don't put other wildlife at risk.


  • Justine Lee, veterinarian and expert in toxicology. Her subscription-based podcast service is VetGirl.

This segment aired on April 16, 2014.

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