Spike in owl sightings in downtown Vancouver

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Wildlife conservators have witnessed a spike in owl sightings in downtown Vancouver – an indication that there could be bad news for pesky rodents in the city.

Social media is abuzz with photos of barred owls sitting outside transit stations and on buildings around the city. Wildlife conservators say that these sightings can result in less prey. With increase in number of these predators, the rat and mice problem in Vancouver could be addressed to a certain extent.

Population of owls in the city can ebb and flow and there appears to be a population of younger owls. The usual targets of these owls are rats and pigeons and both of these are present in downtown Vancouver that could prove to be great for owls.

While a lower rat population benefits the city, the birds are at risk in that environment. Owls can be hurt or killed flying into glass buildings or being hit by vehicles while hunting, experts say, contributing to an increase in the number of calls his organization has received about injured wildlife.

Owls are at risk of rodenticide as well because owls eating rats that have consumed poison can themselves be poisoned. Rats don’t die immediately from rat poison and can take up to 10 days to die, after they’re left in a drunken-like state. If the owl has an option between which rat to pick, they will usually go for the one in drunk state i.e. a poisoned one and hence at risk of being poisoned themselves.

Experts urge people not to use rat poison, but instead use snap traps to minimize the harm to owls and other predators.

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