The thought crossed my mind when I re-tweeted a link from Garden Rant last week about the neonecontinoid pesticides and bees. Then I heard a story on BirdNote about bird safe rat poisons that really opened my eyes.
Of course I knew that rat poison was “poison.” And the one time I had to use it out of doors, I took great care to put it in a very out of the way spot, and I warned any neighbors that might have roaming pets that I had to do this because I had seen a rat.
But I had not thought of the implications on birds of prey. I was concerned about my other wildlife–the smaller critters like chipmunks and squirrels. I didn’t know how attractive the poison might be to them.
But the BirdNote story makes clear that I need to be thinking about the wider circle of life (if, perish the thought, I ever need to use the stuff again!) And that makes good sense. Birds of prey–in my yard this would be hawks, and yes, owls–feed on these smaller creatures. If they are poisoned, we are inadvertently poisoning these larger majestic creatures as well. And I know none of us wants that.
There are numerous good alternatives listed in the BirdNote story.
Finally, on Tuesday, even my local paper, the Hartford Courant had an editorial about the plight of the monarch butterflies. This year, the monarchs numbers have fallen to their lowest count in history. It is not known if they will survive their migration to Mexico and back.
The editorial–and most writers and wildlife biologists who have written on this topic–blame habitat destruction for the die off. As in the case of the bees, the problem is complicated. Pesticides are part of the problem, but they are not the only problem. In this case, the pesticide is an herbicide that destroys the monarchs’ preferred larval food, milkweed. Other habitat destruction is blamed as well.
So in this holiday season–whatever holiday you celebrate–resolve to make 2014 the year you do your part for the environment. It doesn’t have to be much–do what you can. We can all learn from each other and make the world a better place for the beautiful creatures we need to save!