The diet of migrant Red Kites Milvus milvus during a Water Vole Arvicola terrestris outbreak in eastern France and the associated risk of secondary poisoning by the rodenticide bromadiolone

Abstract : Poisoning by pesticides is considered one of the primary threats to the Red Kite Milvus milvus. We studied the diet of this raptor in an area of eastern France where the rodenticide bromadiolone is widely used to control Water Vole Arvicola terrestris outbreaks. A high degree of specialization for Water Voles was noted, as their remains were identified in all 119 pellets collected in autumn 2008, whereas other small rodent species and insects occurred in 27 and 9% of pellets, respectively. We estimated that Water Voles constituted 94% of the total biomass ingested by Red Kites under these conditions. Based on these data, the risk of secondary poisoning due to feeding on poisoned voles was assessed. Acute exposure on a single day was not considered a risk for Kites, but exposure to poisoned voles over 1 week represented the maximal risk for the Red Kite; the calculated dose of bromadiolone ingested by a Red Kite was 137 times higher than the toxicological benchmark for birds. A field survey in the studied area detected four dead Red Kites and one moribund bird in autumn 2008 but did not confirm that the cause of death was bromadiolone poisoning. We suggest that professional monitoring is needed to assess the impact of rodenticides on Red Kites in areas where voles are controlled.
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Michaël Coeurdassier, Claire Poirson, Jean-Philippe Paul, Dominique Rieffel, Dominique Michelat, et al.. The diet of migrant Red Kites Milvus milvus during a Water Vole Arvicola terrestris outbreak in eastern France and the associated risk of secondary poisoning by the rodenticide bromadiolone. Ibis, Wiley, 2012, 154, pp.136-146. ⟨10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01193.x⟩. ⟨hal-00927197⟩

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