Burrowing owls are being found dead in their nests after picking up rats that have ingested rat poison left out by people in Cape Coral.
“I lose sleep,” said Pascha Donaldson with Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife. “That’s all I can say. I lose sleep.”
What makes it tough for Donaldson is that the burrowing owls do not have to die. Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife say they know of at least 11 burrowing owl deaths in the last two weeks.
The group traced the trend to the owls eating dead rats that contained rat poison.
“I’ve probably picked up at least four or five babies, probably at least five adults,” Donaldson said.
Might Hurricane Ian be to blame? Rats have become a problem since the storm.
Donaldson says rat poison has a big impact on burrowing owls because rats are a staple in their diet.
“We’re in the height of baby season, so they’ll bring it back to the nest and feed it to their baby. And the babies all die. You’ve wiped out literally an entire family,” Donaldson said.
Ian also uprooted much of their habitat.
To keep the unofficial mascot of Cape Coral safe, there are other ways to control the rat population.
“If you’re forced to get rid of rats in a mechanical way, a snap trap inside one of those black plastic boxes is going to work as well as live traps,” said Ned Bruha, the Wildlife Whisperer owner.