Kangaroo Apple or Poroporo

I watched a coyote forage in one of these bushes. When the coyote left, we went up to examine the berries which I had never seen before. I took a tiny taste, and my friend gulped down a couple to help us determine what they were: the flavor was bitter with a tad of sweet. When I got home, I couldn’t find the plant on the internet, so I turned to my Nextdoor site and posed the question there. They indeed came up with what it was: Kangaroo apple, as it’s called in Australia, or poroporo, as it is called in New Zealand are native to those areas, but have been naturalized into the Bay Area and can be found throughout San Francisco. AND, we should not have eaten them as they are poisonous — they belong to the nightshade family! Yikes!
Once I had the name of the plant, I looked up more about it. Interestingly, it’s flowers are hermaphroditic (having both male and female organs). They are blue-violet or white in color, and a little over an inch in size. Flowers are followed by berries of about the same size. The berries, it turns out, are poisonous only while green — they become edible once they turn orange.  Whew!
.
The next day I went back to see if the coyote would appear again: I wasn’t sure it was eating the fruit or possibly foraging for snails or slugs on the plant. I wondered why a coyote might eat toxic material. As I watched, I saw that the coyote eating only the orange colored fruit! Maybe the green ones were unsavory and bitter as well as toxic? Smart coyote!

 

RAT POISON in Smaller Doses — When It Doesn’t Kill Right Off

Rat poison kills by use of the ingredient warfarin, or a second generation thereof, which thins the blood. In small doses, humans take a similar drug known as cumaden to prevent strokes. In high doses, these kill by causing the organism to bleed internally — massively. It’s a horrible, tortuous death. It should not be allowed. Rats can be eliminated in a more humane manner if need be.

Very small doses of rat poison may not immediately kill the owl, hawk, or coyote that consumes the poisoned rat, but the effects are just as insidious over a longer period of time. The poison accumulates and compromises the ability to live in various ways, most notably by slowing them down. They are not as alert or as fast or as acute as they once were, so living becomes more difficult and even dangerous for them.

One of the effects of rat poisons on coyotes is that it compromises their immune systems, leaving them particularly vulnerable to parasites, including mites of all types. The worst, of course, is mange. Rat poison doesn’t cause mange, of course, but it can be a highly contributive factor because it weakens the immune system which fights off these mites. If you see a coyote whose fur is riddled with mites, or who has mange, it may very well be rat poison which allowed the mite infestation to take hold.

Please don’t use rat poison. Also, please try and help any animal that has an ailment — they can be helped: Here’s How These Alhambra Residents Handled a Sickly Coyote That Showed Up In Their Neighborhood.

Rats can be eliminated in a humane way. The best way is by exclusion and removing the attractants: plug up the holes in your home and remove/contain food sources. Within two weeks, they’ll leave. Alternatively, there are high-frequency devices which drive the animals away (but probably also the birds). Lastly, you can call a pest-removal service that uses humane traps. Please note that most private pest-management companies will either drown the rat or suffocate it to death with industrial strength carbon dioxide – both methods are extremely painful. The animal needs to be killed humanely.

To find a trapper in your area, please Google “humane trapper”. For rodent control alternatives, please visit www.wildcarebayarea.org/rodenticide or www.wildlife.ca.gov/Living-with-Wildlife/Rodenticides.

Rat Poison Kills Our Wildlife on up the Food Chain

Many people don’t know that when a hawk or owl or other predator eats a poisoned rodent, that animal gets poisoned too. Please STOP using rat poisons (rodenticides)! These poisons are killing the very animals, like the Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Red-Tailed Hawk above, that naturally control rodents. It causes lethargy, dehydration and disorientation in coyotes which also feed on these rodents. 

Shockingly, over 86% of all tested wildlife patients show evidence of exposure to rat poisons! These animals are eating poisoned rodents and carrying varying loads of toxic poison in their systems as a result. Rat poison used by residents of San Francisco is having dangerous and detrimental effects on the wildlife in the area. 
 
Rat poisons kill by making whatever animal eats them bleed to death internally – slowly and painfully over a period of days. While the poisoned rats or mice are still alive, they (and their deadly load of poison) can be caught more easily and consumed by other predators including cats and dogs. Rodents are the basic food source for a number of different predators all the way up the food chain, including owls, hawks, ravens, raccoons, skunks and coyotes in our area. It is a terrifying prospect; to kill many animals while targeting only one. We need to find better ways to live well with wildlife. Please visit Wildcare’s page on rodenticides for more information.
_____
Here is a short summary of what you can use instead of rat poison:
.

PREVENTION is the best method of rodent control. Eliminate all food and friendly habitat space for them.

Remove rat habitat, such as yard debris, trash, construction waste, and dense ivy from around your home.

Remove easy access to food: Completely seal your garbage can and compost, and store bulk food, seed, and dry pet food in secure metal cans. Remove fallen fruit and spilled seeds from birdfeeders, and even take in birdfeeders at night.

Seal openings 1/2 inch or larger around the outside of your house with metal, concrete, or Stuf-fit Copper Mesh Wool, found online or at hardware stores.

Allow natural rodent predators to help out! A family of five owls can eat up to 3,000 rodents in a single breeding season! In our area, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, crows and hawks can also be helpful for this! Any use of rodenticide can kill any of these animals for which the poison was not intended.

Alternatives: catch-and-release traps and high frequency sound emitters are safe, sanitary, and humane solutions. 

PLEASE DO NOT USE POISONS.

 
 

Malicious Poisoning on SF’s Twin Peaks

photo of the poisoned meat balls found on Twin Peaks

photo of the poisoned meat balls found on Twin Peaks

There are people in the city who don’t like coyotes. Were coyotes the intended target of this malicious poisoning act?  So far, two poisoned dogs have been reported and treated by the Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services and the SPCA.

One of the owners found baited meatballs in her neighborhood and it has been confirmed that they are what the dogs ate. This was in the Twin Peaks/Diamond Heights area, on Crestline and Burnett Streets especially.

The dog owner has gathered all the meatballs she could find — about 50 of them, but there is no way to know if she got them all.

It appears that the poison is strychnine. Dogs and coyotes exposed to strychnine show agitation, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and trouble breathing. Strychnine is a poison that afffects the action of glycine in the brain. Glycine acts to turn down activity in the brain, without which a brain becomes too excitable, producing hyper-excitability and seizures. If caught soon, dogs can recover with medical attention. A coyote will just die a horrible death.
.
We’ve been told that occasionally individuals will lace meatballs with strychnine in a misguided attempt to control wildlife populations, including skunks, gophers and COYOTES. Hopefully this is an isolated incident.
.
http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_23597722/?source=inthenews
.
Kiah is a victim

Kiah is a victim

UPDATE: I met Kiah on a walk today. She is one of the victims of the meatball poisoning — she ate two of them before anyone had any knowledge about what was going on. She’s under medical care and her outlook is good. The meatballs have now been found in Cole Valley, Hayes Valley and the Bernal Heights neighborhoods, and it appears that the target of this hideous crime is dogs:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/poisonous-meatballs-sickening-dogs-in-twin-peaks/Content?oid=2497582
.