Artbound

Artbound

Start watching
Fine Cut

Fine Cut

Start watching
SoCal Wanderer

SoCal Wanderer

Start watching
a large damn with graffiti of a woman with a hammer on it, mountains in the background

Earth Focus Presents

Start watching
Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Professor T

Professor T (Belgium)

Start watching
Emma

Emma

Start watching
Guilt

Guilt

Start watching
Line of Separation Key Art.

Line of Separation

Start watching
Us

Us

Start watching
The Latino Experience

The Latino Experience

Start watching
Key Art of "Summer of Rockets" featuring Keeley Hawes and Toby Stephens.

Summer of Rockets

Start watching
Death in Paradise Series 10

Death in Paradise

Start watching
millionaire still

KCET Must See Movies

Start watching
Independent Lens

Independent Lens

Start watching
Tending Nature
New Special Airing Nov. 14

Tending Nature

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Discover all the ways you can make a difference.
Support Icon
The Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams are here to help.

Rat Poison Researcher's Dog Poisoned In Apparent Retaliation

Support Provided By
nyxo-dog-poisoned-2-14-14-thumb-600x399-68720
Nyxo, poisoned February 3 in Humboldt County | Photo: Mourad Gabriel

Bad news for a Northern California toxicologist studying the effects of rat poison on the state's wildlife: his dog was apparently killed in an act of retaliation for his work, poisoned by the same highly toxic chemical whose effects the man had been studying.

Mourad Gabriel has been conducting research into the effects of the rat poison brodifacoum on California wildlife such as Pacific fishers and northern spotted owls. The poison is often used at illegal marijuana grow sites to control rodents, but makes its way up the food chain to kill animals that dine on the dead rodents.

Gabriel's rescue dog Nyxo, who diligently accompanied him on field work, died suddenly on February 3 after becoming acutely ill at the family's home near Blue Lake. A necropsy showed that Nyxo had apparently been deliberately fed red meat laced with brodifacoum. And now a leading wildlife protection organization is offering a $2,500 reward for any information leading to the apprehension of the persons responsible.

I've discussed the effects of brodifacoum on wildlife in significant depth here at KCET in the past. It's not an easy way to die.

"The evidence strongly suggests that this malicious poisoning is tied to Dr. Gabriel's research and if that is true we condemn the use of violence to silence any scientist, researcher or citizen whose work aims to conserve wildlife," said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which is offering the reward. "The reckless use and sale of these poisons is ruining lives by indiscriminately killing pets and wildlife. It's time to permanently ban these poisons."

Attacks on scientists' or activists' household pets by opponents of their work are nothing new. David Helvarg's book "The War Against The Greens" offers a distressing number of examples, including this:

Antitoxics activist Paula Siemers remembers the night two men attacked and knifed her on a Cincinnati street near her home, following earlier incidents of harassment in which she'd been stoned and knocked unconscious, her dog had been poisoned, and her house too had been set on fire.

A 1992 article by Jonathan Franklin published in The Muckraker detailed over a hundred violent attacks on environmental activists in the previous four years. Franklin's article was entitled "First, they kill your dog," after a regrettable commonality in the attacks. If Gabriel's dog was indeed killed as an act of retaliation for his research into brodifacoum and wildlife, it would be a sad indication that the most extreme opponents of wildlife protection haven't changed much since 1992.

"Nyxo was a handsome rescue dog who accompanied us on many research projects," said Gabriel. "Whether we were studying the mountain yellow-legged frog or spotted owl, he always had an inquisitive demeanor and vigorous spirit while joining us on conservation projects."

The Humboldt County Sheriff's office is asking for help in tracking down the assailants. Anyone with information about Nyxo's poisoning is encouraged to contact the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff's Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

A personal note: This story hits hard. Nyxo died on the seventh anniversary of the loss of my dog Zeke, who was also subject to threats due to my writing and activism. Dr. Gabriel and his family have my deepest sympathy.

Support Provided By
Read More
a fire truck with smoke in the background

California Tribes Support Each Other and Seek Inclusion in State Wildfire Response

State agencies' lack of familiarity with Native lands has often led to interference with tribal evacuation efforts and unnecessary destruction of culturally sensitive habitat. To address the significant gaps between tribal needs and available assistance, even the smallest tribes do whatever it takes to care for their members and support other tribes.
a man rides his bike across an intersection and the air in hazy

The Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke Hit Vulnerable People Harder

Wildfire smoke can travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles downwind, exacerbating health conditions and impacting marginalized communities most.
 Sign reading "Imperial Beach" with sunset in the background.

A Small-Town Mayor Sued the Oil Industry. Then Exxon Went After Him.

The mayor of Imperial Beach, California, says big oil wants him to drop the lawsuit demanding the industry pay for the climate crisis.