Three Tumalo owls die mysteriously

Rancher denies using poison to kill rodents

Tumalo owl deaths a mystery

BEND, Ore. - Farm owners and neighbors in Tumalo are wondering what has caused the death of three great horned owls in just a week.

"I never named the owl but he was always there," Bend resident Rachel Nordenhok said Thursday.

When she took her horse out on Wednesday evening, she found an owl dead on the ground.

"I went to the ranch owner and he said that was the third one this week," Nordenhok said.

Three great horned owls died on the ranch in just a week.

The question is what is killing those owls? The ranch owner said she never uses poison to kill rodents.

"She doesn't -- she relies on the owls (to do so)," Nordenhok said of the ranch owner.

Nordenhok contacted High Desert Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, but without necropsies on the dead owls, they said they don't know for sure what could be behind their deaths. They do have an idea, though.

"There's a couple of different poisons that they use to treat rodents," said Dr. Jeff Cooney, veterinarian and president of the wildlife rescue-rehab organizatiion. "What it does. it is a blood thinner and it causes the animals to bleed to death."

That would mean a slow death for these owls, but it's much more than just three dead owls.

"It's not so much about poor me losing my owl. It's about the ecosystem," Nordenhok said.

Without predatory birds like owls, what keeps rattlesnakes and rodents in check?

"When you're poisoning rodents and killing owls, you're killing your friends that are helping you control the rodents," Cooney said.

Instead of poisoning rodents, they advise you should use traps or shoot them with lead-free bullets. Rodent poison can be harmful and deadly to children and pets.

"It's a big concern," Cooney said. "These rodent poisons are actually being banned in some states."

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