According to new research, “unpermitted” private marijuana farms are killing off species including the northern spotted owl.
The animals are dying from rat poison from the thousands of marijuana grow sites that have no permits in the northwestern California counties of Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte.
Owls eat mice and rats and the fact that their prey are being contaminated by the crops has led to the demise of many.
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, and the California Academy of Sciences have found traces of anticoagulant rodenticide in seven of the 10 northern spotted owl carcasses they collected.
The scientists published their study on January 11th in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology.
The study also found that out of 84 dead barred owls, a staggering 34 had tested positive for rat poison.
“Spotted owls are inclined to feed along forest edges. Because grow sites break apart these forest landscapes, they are likely source points for exposure,” remarked lead study author Mourad Gabriel, of UC Davis.
“When you have thousands of unpermitted grows and only a handful of biologists that regulate that for multiple counties, we’re deeply concerned that there aren’t sufficient conservation protective measures in place,” Gabriel said in the statement.
“If no one is investigating the level at which private marijuana cultivators are placing chemicals out there, the fragmented forest landscapes created by these sites can serve as source points of exposure for owls and other wildlife.”