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Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning of Animals & Birds

August 23, 2013

This story is a bit of a departure from our usual articles, but the subject is important.  Wildlife is being poisoned by secondary pentobarbital.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife reports that carcasses that were euthanized with pentobarbital were being left uncovered and killing scavenging creatures like eagles and condors, hawks, vultures and other birds and mammals that feed on carrion.

Problems arise when farm animals, like cows, horses, pigs, etc, are humanely euthanized with the drug and the carcasses are left out in the field.  Small animal carcasses sometimes end up in landfills where wild animals can feed on them.  Along with creatures like bears, cougars, foxes and bobcats, domestic dogs have been poisoned by eating such euthanized carcasses.

It doesn’t take much to poison a bird and even larger mammals suffer, becoming comatose before dying beside the carcass it was eating.

Both veterinarians and farmers have been fined under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act for involuntarily poisoning the birds.

Prevention can be achieved by proper disposal of euthanized animals by a chosen method, such as immediate cremation, incineration or deep burial, so that scavenging birds and animals don’t have acces to them.

I especially like a statement on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Fact Sheet stating, “Rendering is not an acceptable way to dispose of a pentobarbital-tainted carcass.  The drug residues are not destroyed in the rendering process, so the tissues and by-products may contain poison and must not be used for animal feed.”

Too bad the U.S. Fish and Wildlife group doesn’t control the pet food industry!  Unfortunately, euthanized animals from shelters and veterinary clinics are picked up rendering trucks and do get included in the rendering vats in the process of making food for our dogs and cats.

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