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

Brad Corbin named to NCAA Division I Council

The National Collegiate Athletic Association recently appointed Corbin, deputy director of athletics, to the council for a four‑year term.

New spring wheat variety named for pioneering Black family

Bush soft white spring wheat honors settler George Bush and his family who helped indigenous populations battle disease and saved fellow settlers during the 1852 famine.

Robotic gripper for automated apple picking developed

A robotic gripper developed by WSU researchers was able to successfully grab more than 87.5% of the apples in an orchard without damaging the fruit.

Celebrating Pride Month

WSU President Kirk Schulz shares a message of encouragement and support for national Pride Month.