Collateral Damage

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Eric Frommer.

Dead cats pose a threat to our national bird.

That’s the kind of headline I expected to see coming out of the American Bird Conservancy or The Wildlife Society last week, following the resolution of a Department of Justice investigation into the near-fatal poisoning of eight bald eagles last year in Wisconsin.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the raptors, which were rehabilitated last spring by the Raptor Education Group, “had been feeding on cats euthanized by the Vilas County Humane Society. The pentobarbital that killed the cats quickly ravaged the eagles.” [1]

Jennifer Primich, director of the Humane Society of Vilas County, apparently failed to notify operators of a local dump of the “delivery.” Rules put in place following a similar incident 10 years ago require that animals put down by HSVC be buried at the dump.

Primich, explains Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich, “will be required to perform community outreach over the next year. She must speak to shelters about properly disposing of euthanized animals. It is not a criminal matter. If Primich performs the service, she will have no record.” [1]

It’s not like ABC or TWS to overlook an opportunity to further vilify cats. (Both jumped on the news, reported in April, that coyotes had been spotted in Lower Manhattan. ABC used the opportunity to grossly misrepresent results of a 2005–06 study, claiming (falsely) “that outdoor cats make up 13-45 percent of coyote diets.”)

That both ABC and TWS chose to pass on this one (so far, anyhow) has, I suspect, little to do with the fact that the cats in question were in no way responsible for the eagles’ poisoning. Such details seldom factor into their media communications.

Then again, I don’t imagine either organization is eager to bring up the topic of secondary poisoning—a risk that’s bound to increase significantly if they have their way and tens of millions of cats are euthanized killed across the country.

Literature Cited
1. Diedrich, J. (2012, May 7). Bald eagles recover from eating euthanized cats. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, from