Since 1982 when secondary poisoning of a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) was documented following the recommended use of famphur applied topically to cattle, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center has tested dead birds of prey for poisoning by famphur and other pouron organophosphorus (OP) insecticides. Brain cholinesterase (ChE) activity was first determined, then if ChE was depressed ≥50%, stomach and/or crop contents were evaluated for anti-ChE compounds. This report presents the circumstances surrounding the OP-caused deaths of eight bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), two red-tailed hawks, and one great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) between March 1984 and March 1985. OP poisoning of raptors by pour-on insecticides in the United States is widespread, but its magnitude is unknown.
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Vol. 23 • No. 2