A little while ago, I wrote in this blog about the plight of the North American bison. Another symbol of native America, the Bald Eagle, is also facing a fresh threat today.
The American Bald Eagle was officially adopted as the emblem of the United States at the end of the 18th century. Removed from the federal government’s list of endangered species in 1995, the bird had been enjoying a revival of fortunes after numbers dwindled in the mid-20th century. Now, along with bobcats, raccoons, crows, bears, domestic dogs (and humans!) it joins the list of victims of “secondary poisoning” by Compound 1080. Secondary poisoning occurs when a scavenger feeds on a tainted carcass.
Slow-acting, odourless, colourless and tasteless, Compound 1080 is actually sodium monofluoroacetate and was developed as long ago as the 1930s in Germany. It’s currently used in Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan and Israel, as well as in the United States, where its use is restricted to collars (sealed packets) worn by sheep and goats. Apparently, each livestock collar contains enough poison to kill six adult humans!
The United States Department of Agriculture should be persuaded to review its control strategy. Why take the risk of secondary poisoning when measures like confining livestock at night, fencing and the use of guard animals are viable alternatives?