Killed by RAT POISON

killed by rat poison

My friend found her, having been led there by her dog, CC, who is an incredibly inquisitive, active explorer, even on-leash. And my friend lets her dog lead the way. This time she was lead to where a dead coyote lay hidden in the bushes. My friend knew it was a canid, but when she wrote me about it, she referred to it as a *creature*, knowing that a coyote death would upset me, especially where I knew all the coyotes.

She told me its general location and sent me a photo showing tree branches. I was able to find the coyote because of the photo. The type of tree under which the coyote lay would be found only in a certain area. That is the area I searched until I found the critter. I was crushed when I first saw it. It was a young coyote with very ruffled and light colored fur — I’ve seen yearlings with this coloring. This coyote must have recently dispersed from another area, because she was not from the territory in which she had been found. I know those coyotes well, and this one was not one of them, and I had not seen her ever before.

She was wedged in there, held in by a broken branch poking into her neck. It was a tangle of branches, and I had to bend over, and go over and under, being careful to avoid getting branches in my face. I wondered if this animal might have become trapped there, but I was able to move this branch without too much effort, so probably not. On the other side of the tree limb which she was under, her face could be seen with the eye facing up being opened. It was a gorgeous blue. Young coyotes often have blue eyes.

Most coyotes in cities are killed by cars, but this coyote was found right in the middle of a park, past the backyards of a row of houses, not close to any streets, so she probably would not have been hit by a car. I didn’t see any trauma to her body.

What to do? I thought about it only a moment and decided on a necropsy. Those on the sidewalk watching me were very happy about this decision. We all wanted to know what had killed this coyote. I walked to a store which was only 2 minutes away to get 55 gallon bags. I was able to bag the coyote by pushing it into the large bag with another smaller plastic bag over my hand. A man who was there offered to carry it to the car.  This young coyote must have weighed a mere 25 pounds at most.

I got home and called Wildcare, and after some back and forth conversation, my husband drove me up to San Rafael where Wildcare is located. Initially they did an X-ray which showed a VERY full stomach. But there was no trauma to the body — no broken bones or ribs. What could have killed her?

Several weeks later, I was called with the results of the necropsy report: She had died of massive internal bleeding due to rat poisoning. There were actually four different types of rat poisons found in her liver, with the highest poison concentration being Bromadiolone, so she had eaten bad rats from at least four sources, and she may have eaten the poison pellets herself. Each brand of rat poison only carries ONE of the poisons. Different people buy different brands. This shows that many people in the area are using rat poisons. Wildcare is finding rat poison in most of the animals it treats — isn’t this incredible? I’ll be working with Wildcare to help get information out about poisons — and hopefully folks will become aware of the harm poisons cause to our wildlife, and hopefully they’ll stop using them.


[see May writeup in Noe Valley Voice]

killed by rat poison


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindie
    Mar 13, 2017 @ 05:35:06

    Oh. This is heartbreaking. She is so beautiful and apparently suffered and perhaps died alone. Thank you for posting this story and her photo. It helps me to imagine her and send her spirit love and healing energy by acknowledging her. I am so grateful for your love and care of the coyotes. Thank you. I love them so much.


    • Roberta
      Jan 12, 2020 @ 13:45:31

      I WILL use rat poison where I live to KILL coyotes. Understand that they can and will kill my beautiful cats if they get the opportunity. So I will prevent that!

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 12, 2020 @ 20:08:41

      Hi Roberta — There are humane ways to protect your cat. For instance, you could build a “catio”. The double benefit here is that catios prevent cats from killing so many of our songbirds. Look at for some ideas. I don’t suggest using rat poison. In fact, it doesn’t kill nearly as many coyotes as it does cats. See: “How Secondary Poisoning Kills Your Outdoor Cats.”

  2. charlier64
    Mar 13, 2017 @ 13:45:44

    I asked my vet once, and he told me that rat poisons are specially formulated to prevent an animal (cat/dog) from becoming ill from eating a rat that died from poisoning. I suggest that the coyote must have eaten the poison directly, rather than through passive transfer. Let me know what you find out about this.


    • yipps
      Mar 13, 2017 @ 17:13:53

      Hi Charlie — Thanks for your comment. I would think that it’s highly likely that she ate the poison directly because of the massive amount found in her. At the same time, her system contained four different types of rat poison, most probably from eating poisoned rodents over a long period of time. These poisons do accumulate in the body and slowly take their toll on their victims, as attested to by the dead owls and hawks which we had necropsied. Janet

    • charlier64
      Mar 13, 2017 @ 17:49:18

      Thank you for the information. Very interesting. I had thought they had formulated it to prevent such things. But maybe the yote was already ill and weak and unable to hunt, thus ended up using dead rats via poison as it’s only food source, and due to the combination and massive volume, maybe that is what killed it. I’ll see what I can find in the way of research on it.

    • Cindie
      Mar 13, 2017 @ 18:14:15

      I was always sure that rat poisoning is definitely a problem for the food chain. Not only death to predators, but a slow death and extremely painful. We have a pest control company who verified that and I will not allow them to poison rodents on our property. We use traps if a rodent gets in the house and outside it is the owls & cats who keep them in check. There are other natural predators: heron, hawk, coyote, etc… I also read that if predators survive the ingestion of poison that it weakens their system. Raptors, for example, will lay eggs that have thin shells so that the babies do not survive. :(

    • charlier64
      Mar 13, 2017 @ 20:17:45

      Thanks. I did just look it up and it is called ‘secondary poisoning’. More common in dogs than cats. I also read an article by a vet stating he hadn’t knowingly treated any cats for 2ndary poisoning from rat/mouse poison, but a few dogs. Dogs will even eat the rat poison itself whereas a cat will not.

    • yipps
      Mar 13, 2017 @ 21:00:12

      Thanks, Charlie, for looking this up.

  3. Margaret Mc
    Mar 14, 2017 @ 22:26:48

    Where was this animal found, what town, what park????


    • yipps
      Mar 15, 2017 @ 03:56:28

      Hi Margaret — The animal was found in the city of San Francisco. Rat poison is a prevalent problem and occurs throughout the city — around grocery stores, the public schools, apartment complexes, private homes — there’s not just one person or one entity involved with this. It’s important for people to know that it is a far-ranging problem and that we need to put a stop to it everywhere, not just to where a dead animal was found.

    • Cindie
      Mar 15, 2017 @ 04:11:24

      Yes Janet. Please let it stop.

  4. Gail
    Mar 17, 2017 @ 10:46:47

    If only they could have left the poison out of the equation, she would have done the job anyway.


  5. Cindie
    Apr 04, 2017 @ 21:00:25

    This article was just posted by the town where I live: “Portola Valley to experiment with nonpoisonous ways to control rodents.”


  6. Trackback: Pesticides in our Parks, Jan-March 2017 | San Francisco Forest Alliance
  7. Angry "Nazi"
    Oct 26, 2017 @ 00:46:04

    [Readers: I’m posting this to show everyone how strongly some people hate coyotes and anyone trying to help them. Janet]

    I’m glad the coyote died a painful death, fuck those things. You damn libtard.


    • Roberta
      Jan 12, 2020 @ 13:42:55

      Let me add that coyotes are wild animals and cats and dogs are NOT. We LOVE our pets and HATE coyote as they viciously kill our beloved pets!!!!

  8. Cindie
    Oct 28, 2017 @ 20:19:05

    Thank you for posting Janet. It gives me the opportunity to imagine this person and surround them with a sphere of white light and love, to assist with restoring balance.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 21:35:25

      Hi Cindie — I can’t imagine this person. I think it’s up to the rest of us to “restore balance” by doing what we are doing. Carl Safina, who I just posted about, believes that the only thing that makes us human is that we encompass the extremes which no other species does.

    • Cindie
      Oct 30, 2017 @ 05:43:19

      Yes we encompass the extremes…. Oh how I love that Carl Safina video you posted. It was heartbreaking and inspiring. I just bought his book Beyond Words.

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Oct 30, 2017 @ 06:07:55

      Yes, very inspiring, and very confirming!! So glad you feel the same way!! :))

  9. Jim Dandy
    Feb 09, 2022 @ 01:49:16

    I am posting this to show the extent of unimaginable hate and ignorance that exists. Hunters often need an excuse for their purposes, and here is a clear and sad example of it.

    Another California freak show. Coyotes are vermin. Period. Rats with pointy teeth. I exterminate them at every opportunity with the same disregard you idiots have for other people’s pets and children. They are an exigent threat in populated areas and should be exterminated by whatever means necessary and/or available. I can see where a public health threat wouldn’t bother the idiots who are ignoring, encouraging, people to shit on the sidewalks and leave dirty needles everywhere. Next you’ll be on a “save the tapeworms” mission. You are why your state is considered a backwards, reprehensible cesspool of human genetic failure. Poison them, trap them, shoot them. Those of us in the real world will continue to dispose of rats, mice, roaches and coyotes as we see fit.


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