California’s booming pot business is poisoning spotted owls, research shows


Four Reno dispensaries begin sales of recreational marijuana.
Jason Bean

RENO — Americans’ appetite for marijuana is responsible for a burgeoning pot industry that’s worth billions of dollars in California alone.

New research shows it’s also harming northern spotted owls, one of the Golden State’s most iconic creatures.

The research, published in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology, is the first documented, scientific connection between rat poison that black-market marijuana growers use to protect their crops and widespread contamination of northern spotted owls, a state and federally threatened species.

Earlier research connected use of rat poison on grow sites to deaths of fishers, deer, bears, foxes and upland game birds.

“I live up here where it is the

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