The Endangered Species Coalition has released a report profiling 10 species threatened by pesticides. Among them are three species iconic to the Pacific Northwest: The chinook salmon, the northern spotted owl, and the streaked horned lark.
Chinook salmon absorb pesticides through contaminated runoff, which deposits in their fatty tissue, and affects their ability to swim.. The poison is consequently spread to their primary predator, the Southern Resident orca, another endangered species.
As for the spotted owl, over 70 percent test positive for rodenticides, which are unwittingly ingested through prey. According to the report, the use of rodenticides in their natural habitats has increased due to Illegal marijuana cultivation. Only 2,200 mating pairs remain in the US.
Even fewer in number is the streaked horned lark, with a population under 2,000. In 2014, 4 such larks were found dead at the Corvallis airport. One tested positive for zinc phosphide, a common pesticide, possibly consumed through contaminated seeds.
In an interview with KTVZ, Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health Program Director for the Center for Biological Diversity, cited the Trump administration’s lax approach to pesticides as a contributing factor.
“They’ve changed the risk thresholds for exposure to children based on requests from industry,” says Burd. “They’ve scrapped reports looking at the impacts of pesticides on endangered species. They are rolling back protections from pesticides left and right.”
By Brandon Urey