Richard K. Stroud DVM MS
Veterinary Medical Examiner
US Fish and Wildlife Forensic Lab
Special Agent USFWS
Division of Law Enforcement
Poisoning of wildlife is a wide spread and major investigational problem for wildlife law enforcement officers. Protected wildlife killed through pesticide misuse or environmental contamination is just as dead as if they were illegally killed with a gun. The impact on the population may, in fact, be greater because of secondary and even tertiary poisoning or impacts on breeding potential of populations lasting over a period of time. Wildlife poisoning is indiscriminate and may pose a significant hazard to endangered species, domestic animals and even human beings. In law enforcement cases, acute and sub-acute toxicities (poisonings) are most frequently encountered. It is usually impractical to pursue individual cases which involve chronic toxicosis such as DDT, PCB, or heavy metal poisoning because of wildlife mobility. This also limits the type of poisons which must be considered in field cases. Organophosphate and carbamate pesticides are by far the most commonly encountered acute wildlife poisons followed by strychnine, avitrol, barbiturates, cyanide, compound 1080, anticoagulant rodenticides, and zinc phosphide.