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It is a method that anyone who is interested in improving the pheasant numbers would likely condone, yet two potato farmers from Northern Wisconsin, Alvin C. Sowinski and his son, Paul A. Sowinski, decided to use poison to increase the local population of the hunting bird.

Their hope was to kill natural predators of the pheasant so there would be greater pheasant numbers for family and friends who enjoy WI pheasant hunting. The species specifically targeted were coyotes and grey wolves. However the poison traps had a significant impact and at least one bobcat, two bald eagles and three ermine were also killed by the carbofuran poison.

Carbofuran poison was largely banned by the EPA in 1994. The poison is highly toxic and it can kill many small mammals and birds just by coming into contact with a source. To make matters worse, the indiscriminate killer has a long life in the food chain and any animal that dies of poison can still pass on the chemical when a scavenger feeds off the carcass.

Carbofuran has been known to leak into groundwater supplies and poison drinking water; which can affect other animals and fish. It can also be damaging to human health if it is ingested in large quantities, which includes the development of blood disorders and damage to the nervous and reproductive systems.

The father and son will be sentenced in May. They both face fines of up to $100,000 and up to one year in prison.

Despite these punishments, there is no way to repair the damage that these two people have caused in the ecosystem. At the time of the investigation into the animal deaths, the gray wolf was a protected species and so is the bald eagle – an incredible icon of the United States.

It is also likely that these measures had a negative effect on the population of pheasants as they drank contaminated water and came in contact with infected animals and carcasses.

What methods do you think should be undertaken to increase pheasant populations?

Let us know in the comments below.


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