WSU Cougar Head Logo Washington State University
WSU Insider
News and Information for Faculty, Staff, and the WSU Community

Researcher implicates cattle drug in vulture deaths

Three years of work by Washington State University researcher Lindsay Oaks have led to a major discovery linking the decline of three Asian vulture species to a drug commonly used to treat livestock there.

Oaks, a microbiologist with the College of Veterinary Medicine, worked with an international team of scientists. The findings of their work will be published in the journal Nature, see

Oaks is with a team of experts speaking at an international summit meeting Feb. 5-6 in Katmandu, Nepal. The team will reveal additional details of their findings and propose possible solutions to help mitigate the long-term decline of these rare species.

Oaks’ work links the veterinary use of the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in domestic livestock with the catastrophic crash of three species of raptors.

This discovery is significant in that it is the first known case of a pharmaceutical causing major ecological damage over a huge geographic area and threatening three species with extinction,” said Oaks, the lead diagnostic investigator for The Peregrine Fund’s team.

Diclofenac is commonly used to treat livestock and is known to cause kidney damage in both birds and mammals. Cattle that die are the primary food source for the vultures.

Testing soon showed that tissues from all the affected vultures contained residues of diclofenac. When the records were examined, widespread veterinary use of diclofenac in south Asia also coincided with the population decline of the vultures.

Next Story

Recent News

Leadership changes in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

Xianming Shi is the new chair of civil and environmental engineering, while Haluk Beyenal will serve as associate dean of research and graduate studies. Dave Field is the new director for the Institute of Materials Research.

Scientists urge preparation for catastrophic climate change

Although unlikely, climate change catastrophes, including human extinction, should be more heavily considered by scientists, according to a new commentary article coauthored by WSU archaeologist Tim Kohler.

Find More News

Subscribe for more updates