By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — For the first time, Massachusetts has reported that a bald eagle in the state has died from rodent poison. MassWildlife said observers saw the adult female exhibiting “odd behavior” at her nest in Middlesex County along the Charles River in mid-March and she died soon after.

Wildlife officials confirmed that her death was caused by anticoagulant rodenticides, a type of poison used on mice and rats that prevents blood from clotting normally. The eagle may have ingested the poison herself or eaten prey that took the bait.

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“The struggle to control mice and rats is usually viewed in terms of humans vs. rodents, but wildlife such as birds of prey are often not recognized as players in this battle,” said Dr. Maureen Murray, Director of Tufts Wildlife Clinic, in a statement. “Many people are surprised to learn that the mouse poison they use in their basement can also kill the great horned owl hooting in the neighborhood.”

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A bald eagle in Massachusetts died from rodent poison (Image credit: James B. Condon, Jr)

Instead of using a rodent poison, MassWildlife encourages to “rodent-proof” their homes first by removing food sources and securing exterior areas.  Snap traps are also a better solution than poison, they said.

Despite the death, MassWildlife says the state’s eagle population continues to grow, and a new female has already been spotted in the nest.

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“The appearance of a new female in such a short period of time speaks to the state’s robust eagle population,” said Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist.

CBSBoston.com Staff