San Rafael, California - The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently confirmed another turkey vulture was poisoned by the euthanasia drug pentobarbital. It was found near Inverness, in Marin County, and taken to the wildlife hospital operated by the nonprofit WildCare in San Rafael.
The massive bird with a six-foot wingspan has since recovered and will be released on Tuesday, August 11.
In 2014, CDFW confirmed pentobarbital exposure in six turkey vultures in San Rafael. The source of the exposure remains unknown. Those birds were also taken to WildCare, a CDFW-approved wildlife rehabilitator.
Wildlife officials are concerned the recent admission of another pentobarbital-poisoned vulture to WildCare indicates that more animals are at risk. Anyone with information about possible sources of pentobarbital-contaminated animals should contact CDFW at (916) 358-2954.
Pentobarbital is a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize companion animals, livestock and horses. If animals are euthanized with pentobarbital and the remains are not properly disposed of, scavenging wildlife – such as turkey vultures and eagles – can be poisoned. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial.
Turkey vultures are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and California Fish and Game Code. Improperly disposed-of euthanized remains are a danger to all scavenging wildlife.
CDFW asks members of the veterinary and livestock communities to share this information with colleagues, to prevent additional poisoning. WildCare also asks the public to pay attention to grounded turkey vultures and other raptors and scavengers.
Pentobarbital-poisoned birds appear to be dead. They have no reflex response and breathing can barely be detected. The birds appear intact, without wounds or obvious trauma. Anyone finding a comatose vulture should call WildCare’s 24-hour Hotline at (415) 456-SAVE (7283) immediately.
Read more about one pentobarbital-poisoned turkey vulture patient and the astonishing medical intervention required to save its life at www.wildcarebayarea.org/vulture.