Widely used euthanasia drug threatens to become the next major threat to our wildlife.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently announced the death of several turkey vultures. Five of the birds did not survive, two could be treated and are doing well. As the cause of death CDFW named a euthanasia drug that is used widely by veterinarians. It is also used under the brand name of Coumadin to thin the blood of human patients. Profit-oriented business people attempted to use it in Texas to control the out of control wild pig populations there.
Every year hundreds of thousands of pets and domestic animals are put down for medical and humane reasons. Veterinarians use a member of the barbiturate family to do so humanely. This drug is also used in humans as a blood thinner to prevent blood clots. It prevents platelets in the blood from sticking together which enables the body to stop bleeding from a wound.
Unfortunately, it also does so for internal wounds where the loss of blood is not easily observed. The drug stays in a body for a long time where it may cause uncontrolled bleeding. Ultimately, death by blood loss is the ultimate consequence.
Because of the danger of uncontrolled bleeding, the level of Coumadin or its generic versions is carefully checked on a regular basis. Of course, when used as euthanasia drug to put down animals the drug will remain in the carcass. Only deep burial or cremation will prevent it from getting into the environment.
Showboating turkey vultures (USFS)
Blood thinners, such as Coumadin, have a very widespread use as rodent control poisons. They can keep rats, mice, and other rodents in check.
However, any carcass that contains one of these blood thinners poses an ongoing threat to scavengers and other wildlife. By ingesting the poisoned animal remains, the blood thinner will get into the bloodstream of the scavenger. When enough of the blood thinner has accumulated in the predator, a silent but painful death can result.
Wild pigs, as all hunters know, are omnivores that do consume the flesh of dead animals. Therefore, blood thinners pose a grave danger to them.
Hunters who hunt in areas with turkey vultures know the birds very well. Field dress a harvested animal and you will see turkey vultures appear out of nowhere and sweep down on the discarded body parts. If the dead animal was euthanized or died of rat poison, the birds will ingest the poison.
Scavenging turkey vultures (sciencing)
As I pointed out in my previous articles, blood thinners that are used as euthanasia are the next environmental disaster, like DDT for example, waiting in the wings. Their detrimental effects of the euthanasia drug are widely unknown and mostly ignored even by veterinarians and professional and politicians.
It is only a matter of time until some ignorant politicians authorize them for the control of ‘invasive’ species or other nuisances to agriculture for the sake of reelection or profit. A major environmental catastrophe of the likes of DDT is lurking in the dark. I dread that day.
And so should you if you love the outdoors and wildlife.
(from his hospital bed)