Records of eagles, coyotes (Canis latrans), and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) necropsied at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, between 1967 and 2002 were reviewed for cases suggestive of anticholinesterase poisoning. From 1993 to 2002, 54 putative poisoning incidents involving 70 bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and 10 golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetus) were identified. Of these, 50 incidents occurred in Saskatchewan, two were in Manitoba, and one occurred in each of Alberta and the Northwest Territories. The diagnosis was confirmed in eight instances by demonstration of pesticide in ingesta from eagles or known use of pesticide at the site together with brain cholinesterase (AChE) reduction of >50% in at least one animal. A presumptive diagnosis of poisoning was made in 33 incidents based on brain AChE reduction of >50% in at least one animal; 13 incidents were considered suspicious because of circumstantial evidence of the death of eagles in association with other species and limited AChE reduction. Other wild species were found dead in 85% of the incidents involving eagles. Coyotes, foxes, black-billed magpies (Pica pica), and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were associated with 34, six, six, and three incidents, respectively. There were eight additional incidents that did not involve eagles in which poisoning was diagnosed in coyotes. Carbofuran was identified in nine incidents. Carbamate poisoning was indicated on the basis of reactivation of brain AChE activity in two additional incidents. Brain AChE activity was not reduced from normal in eagles in four of seven incidents in which carbofuran was identified. The organophosphorous insecticide terbufos was found together with carbofuran in one incident. Brain AChE activity was measured in wild canids and in eagles in 15 incidents; in all of these incidents, brain AChE was reduced by >50% in at least one mammal, whereas this level of reduction occurred in eagles in only four incidents. Use of anticholinesterase pesticides to poison coyotes is illegal, but the practice continues and secondary poisoning of eagles is a problem of unknown proportions in western North America.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2