Introducing SAW’s “Forgo the Feeder” Campaign!

Rodent stealing food

SAW is asking Arlingtonians to remove their bird feeders this summer and keep them down through at least November 15th to protect our birds in order to reduce the town’s rat activity. Going forward, we’d like folks to take down feeders beginning in mid-April through mid-November. Studies have shown that homes that have bird feeders on the property are significantly more likely to have active rat burrows nearby than ones that do not. Even if you do not put down rat poison to deal with the rats that come to your yard attracted by your feeder, your neighbors often do. SAW regularly fields complaints from concerned Arlington residents who have one neighbor with feeders and another using rat poison to deal with the rodents the feeders attract. That rat poison, in turn, is killing off our birds of prey in Arlington, including our owlshawks, and even our bald eagles, not to mention our foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and even some of our companion animals.

Please read up more on why we should reconsider bird feeders during warmer weather seasons, and tips/tricks for keeps rats away from feeders when the occasion calls for them by visiting SAW’s “Forgo the Feeder” campaign page. You will also find photographs of the diverse range of birds that still frequent feeder-free yards!

House finch couple nesting in tree in SAW founder Laura Kiesel’s backyard. No feeders present.

Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic Submits Legal Petition to State to Suspend Use of Anticoagulant Rodenticides on Behalf of SAW & Other Wildlife Advocates

Local fledgling Great Horned Owlet. Photo credit Laura Kiesel

On Monday, May 13th, Harvard’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic submitted a formal legal petition to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) requesting the immediate suspension of anticoagulant rodenticides registration/use in the state. Laura Kiesel is one of the petitioners on behalf of Save Arlington Wildlife, along with Marci Cemenska of Save Lexington Wildlife; Erin Hutchings, Jodi Swenson, and Linda Amato of Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc,; Jane Newhouse of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue, Jim and Patty-Sears Joyce of Friends of Horn Pond.

In a separate request, the coalition is also calling for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to investigate the impacts of rodenticides on species protected by the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and ensure that MDAR is exhausting all avenues to avoid harming state- protected species. 

Many thanks to the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program and the hard work of their students, and the other petitioners who work tirelessly to advocate for, rescue and rehabilitate, wildlife harmed by rodenticides in Massachusetts. Cape Ann Wildlife in particular offered invaluable data that made this petition possible.

Now it’s the state’s move!

Announcing The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund

We’re pleased to announce that Save Arlington Wildlife founder and director Laura Kiesel has recently launched The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund, a fiscally sponsored project of the nonprofit, Mission:Earth.

The Mission and Vision of the Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund (SMWEF) is to educate the public about the presence and importance of wildlife in the Commonwealth, including in our state’s urban and suburban ecosystems. SMWEF seeks to raise awareness about the toxic and often fatal effects rodenticides (rat poisons) have on wildlife and companion animals. SMWEF will achieve this through offering supportive resources to locally established Save Wildlife chapters and initiatives in cities and towns around Massachusetts in order to educate their residents and push them toward tangible and positive changes that will better protect the wildlife in their own backyards. SMWEF’s strives for a poison- and pollution-free future. Under the fiscal sponsorship of Mission: Earth, The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund qualifies for tax-exempt donations and contributions to achieve this end. To donate, please visit:

The first step of SMWEF will be to draft and implement a comprehensive outreach program that can engage residents across the state of Massachusetts and inspire them to take action on rodenticide use and other challenges that harm wildlife populations in the Bay State. This will include more investments in larger scale commercial campaigns such as billboards, public transit ads, and events.

SAW Official Statement on the Recent Incidents of Two Foxes Injured by Illegal Leg-Hold Traps in Arlington

Photo courtesy of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue

Save Arlington Wildlife (SAW) has been closely following the issue of the illegal leg-hold traps that have injured two red foxes that reside in our town in the past two weeks. SAW has been in communication with relevant parties, including the state division of wildlife, the Arlington Town Manager, Newhouse Wildlife Rescue, the media, and many concerned residents in Arlington and Lexington.

SAW is aware that the first injured fox has seemingly removed the trap. It is strongly suspected he has chewed his paw off in order to do that, as several eyewitnesses have said that they have seen the fox moving about on three legs. SAW is very concerned about the welfare of this fox and his ability to continue to survive in the absence of medical care if the injured leg is infected. SAW also has concerns regarding the safety of our other wildlife, companion animals, and people–particularly children–that are at risk of being injured by other traps that may be present.

SAW is glad to hear that the Arlington Police Department is following state protocols and has been directly consulting with the Environmental Police and our state wildlife agency. SAW is also heartened to know that the APD has launched an investigation to identify the person who is setting these traps, which have been banned in the state of Massachusetts since 1975. SAW hopes Town officials will continue to invest significant time and resources in solving this case and ensuring the safety of our town’s inhabitants, both human and non-human.

In particular, SAW would like the Town of Arlington to prioritize locating the first fox so that his injuries can be assessed by a veterinary professional and the proper treatment prescribed. Additionally, SAW would like a local effort undertaken in finding the discarded trap, which may still pose a legitimate public safety hazard.

Going forward, SAW is requesting that the Town to take the following measures:

– Draft a comprehensive plan and earmark funding and resources for an educational pilot program geared at peacefully co-existing with wildlife in our town.

– Invest in shoring up our Animal Control division and offering more independence and resources to our Animal Control Officer to handle wildlife rescues and intakes in a manner that complies with federal and state laws and the ACO’s training and certifications.

– Respond swiftly with widespread public notification as soon as town officials become aware of illegal trapping and the presence of wildlife injured from trapping within or in close proximity to our municipal borders.

– Release a strong public statement against the use of illegal leg-hold and steel jaw traps.

Save Arlington Wildlife can assist the Town of Arlington in achieving these goals and hopes that these tragic incidents can serve as a powerful catalyst to reaching a better understanding of, and increased respect for, the wildlife we are fortunate to share our community with.**

UPDATE ON THE INJURED FOXES: The first fox remains at large and is injured and potentially missing a leg/paw. The second fox was rescued in a collaborative effort between Arlington Police Department, Arlington Animal Control, Lexington Police Department, Environmental Police, and Newhouse Wildlife Rescue–as well as several Lexington residents. The second fox (photographed above) was transported to Newhouse Wildlife Rescue and his front leg was amputated due to the extent of injuries incurred by the leg-hold trap. He will continue to be assessed to see if his is a viable candidate to be released back into the wild. He has been named Phoenix the fox due to his remarkable resilience. Deepest thanks and gratitude to all who were involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of Phoenix the fox.


Boston Globe published a top-page editorial supporting Arlington’s Home Rule petition to ban SGARs from private property!

On Wednesday, May 10th, the Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources held its hearing for the slate of bills concerning pesticides, including several related to rodenticide regulation. An hour before the hearing began, Save Arlington Wildlife hosted a rally in front of the State House at 12 noon, which was covered by WBZ/CBS News!

If you did not get to attend or submit your testimony to the Committee, you can still email them at: 

The following is a boilerplate template you can use for your email, BUT WE ARE ASKING FOLKS TO PERSONALIZE THEIR MESSAGES AND ADD THEIR OWN INFORMATION. This is because legislators may dismiss copy/paste messages as form letters. Here is an outline:

“Dear Committee Members,

As a constituent of Massachusetts, I am strongly urging your Committee to pass H.814/S.540, which would empower local towns and cities to restrict harmful pesticides, including rodenticides. I support this because….

I am also asking your Committee to pass H.804, which would grant Arlington’s Home Rule petition to ban Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (SGARs) from private properties. This is important to me because…

Finally, please pass H.825, otherwise known as the “Hawkins” bill, which would create a digital database to track these rodenticides. However, I am also asking the Committee Chair to add back in the language into the bill that would require pest control professionals to disclose the environmental impacts of SGARs and get signed consent from customers that they have been notified of the impacts prior to application. This is necessary because….

Thank you for your consideration.



Name of Town/City and Zip Code

Hundreds Gather to Honor MK the Eagle

In late March, Arlington’s beloved breeding female bald eagle died due to SGARs poisoning despite the valiant efforts of the New England Wildlife Center. The day after MK died, hundreds of people gathered on the green in front of the Cyrus Dalin Museum in Arlington at SAW’s open invitation. From there, we marched on Mass Avenue to Town Hall and made our position on SGARs unequivocally clear.

That so many showed up with such short notice on damp, chilly weekday evening to demand change from our state legislators, not only speaks volumes about the impact MK had on so many lives. It is also testament to the public outcry against the widespread use of harmful pesticides.

Save Arlington’s Wildlife

UPDATE: This Thanksgiving (2022), it was discovered a lone survivor of the Great Horned Owl family residing in Menotomy Rocks Park that died this spring had attracted a new mate, spurring new hope we could have a thriving owl couple at the park. However, this hope was short-lived. 

On December 4th, an owl was discovered collapsed on the ground by the pond in the park, coughing up watery blood. A wildlife rehabber was called in, but the owl died en route to the animal clinic, again widowing the surviving male owl. The rehabber reported that the blood they drew from the owl had still failed to clot even hours later, a sign of anticoagulant poisoning.   Great Horned Owls often mate for life until one of the pair dies. They usually spend most if not all the year together–roosting in trees, preening each other, serenading each other, hunting together, feeding each other, and then raising their offspring together. Another Great Horned Owl pair in neighboring Belmont have been together for over 12 years. That this female died so late in the mating season means the male–whose natural place would be as part of a couple–will likely be alone for at least another year and not have offspring this upcoming season. This means this species is failing to thrive in our town due to the prevalence of rodenticide poisoning in our borders.

In summer 2021, a resident juvenile bald eagle in Arlington known as “C25” died due to rodenticide poisoning.

C25 on her nest in Arlington a few weeks before her death.
Photo credit: Laura Kiesel, Copyright 2021

This means C25 likely ate rats that had fed on the poison that is available in bait boxes that can be found on most streets in Arlington against residential buildings, businesses, and homes.

The kind of poison in these bait boxes, known as Second Generation Anti-coagulant Rodenticides, or “SGARs”–are a kind of super poison that threatens our pets and wildlife. It was banned from over-the-counter sales in 2015 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency due to an epidemic of child poisoning. However, licensed pest control professionals can still deploy them in bait stations. This does nothing to stop secondary poisoning risks of animals such as foxes, owls, cats, hawks, coyotes, and eagles.

Unfortunately, wildlife deaths due to rodent poisonings are not tracked. As bald eagles are still a listed species under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, any bald eagle death in our state’s borders must be tested to determine cause of death. C25 was the second bald eagle to die in the area in just a few month’s time from confirmed rodenticide poisoning. The first one to die in 2021 was her cousin and died in Waltham.

C25’s mother, on a perch overlooking the Mystic River. She and her mate are the first pair of breeding bald eagles to nest in Arlington in many decades. C25 and her sibling, C26, were the first offspring for the pair. Both perished. Only a decade ago bald eagles were endangered and rarely seen in the state. They are still listed as a species of special concern in the state. Photo credit, Laura Kiesel 2021

More recently, a family of Great Horned Owls–namely, a mother owl and her two adolescent owlets–were discovered dead at Menotomy Rocks Park. Though a necropsy was not performed to officially determine cause of death, a field assessment pointed to rodenticides as the possible culprit (specifically, the owls were spilling bright red watery blood post-mortem, a usual tell-tale sign of anticoagulant poisons).

Mama Great Horned Owl guarding her nest (there were very young owlets underneath her when this was taken), Spring 2022. Photo credit, Laura Kiesel, Copyright 2022
Mama owl with her owlets, at Menotomy Rocks Park, 2022. Photo credit MJ Keeler, 2022

What can be done about poisons?

Fortunately, Arlington Town Meeting did pass warrants this past spring 2022 to phase out use of SGARs on town-owned and managed lands and properties, and adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan that emphasizes poison-free alternatives to controlling rats and mice. The town also plans to ask the state for a waiver to also try to phase out rodenticide use by private landlords and businesses owners (currently the state does not allow municipalities to do this). But it’s not clear whether that will happen. In the meantime, you as a consumer can make sure to only use sustainable/humane alternatives to poisons in your own home and business, and ask your landlords or the businesses you patronize to do the same. With that in mind, we’re launching the Arlington Poison Free Pledge.

Petition to the Housing Corporation of Arlington to cease using rodenticides.

For more information about the impacts of rodenticides on wildlife, as well as alternatives to poisons for rodent control, Raptors Are The Solution, or RATS, is a great resource.