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Officials Urge Public To Properly Handle Euthanized Animals After Vultures Died In Ventura County

Photo by Melanie Piazza, WildCare
Turkey vulture that was poisioned by euthanasia drugs is being rehabilitated

State Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned the improper handling of the carcasses of some euthanized animals is responsible for the death of wildlife on the South Coast.

Since 2015, a number of raptors across California have been found to be poisoned by pentobarbital, which is used by veterinarians to euthanize animals. In Ventura County alone, seven vultures were poisoned. Five of them were rehabilitated but two died.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife environmental scientist Stella McMillin said that’s why euthanized animals must either be cremated or buried at least three to four feet deep.

“If they are in any place where a scavenger can get them – so buried shallowly or just dumped somewhere – they can be consumed and they poison the scavenger. So, they poison the vultures or the eagles or a coyote or whatever eats the carcass of the animal,” she said.

She’s also urging the public to promptly report any wildlife scavenger that may be exposed to euthanasia drugs.