California’s timber industry was sacrificed for the spotted owl. Now pot farms pose a new threat

The economy in rural Northern California was crippled in the 1990s when a federal judge shut down logging in old growth forests to protect the northern spotted owl.

Now, researchers worry that the underground marijuana industry that sprang up in timber country after the collapse is contributing to the owl’s ongoing demise.

A study released Thursday by UC Davis with the California Academy of Sciences says an alarming number of spotted owls are being found dead with illegal rodent poison in their systems – poison that researchers say is being set out by clandestine marijuana growers protecting their lucrative crop from rats and other pests. The owls eat the rodents poisoned by the powerful toxin that causes massive internal bleeding.

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