Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scientists Continue to Discover Negative Side Effects of Human Consumption of Drugs in Wildlife

A year ago I was privileged enough to go on a private group tour of a waste water treatment plant for a significant American city.  After being showed facility after facility of filters I asked what the biggest problem was that still remained in the processed water.  I got a surprisingly intense answer: "Pills!  People dump their medicine down the toilet not knowing that it hurts the fish!  Even the pills people take hurts the fish!  Birth control medicine comes out of people's pee and no filter can take care of that.  Goes straight back into the water and into fish.  Now alot of poor fish are all screwed up and can't have kids of their own!"  The person was not joking.  He was very concerned for the fish and the environment he loved.  I felt the person pain as well because of my similar appreciation of the aquatic life and my stance as a fisherman/fish conservationist.

Now a new study shows a new disturbing side effect of human consumption of drugs in wildlife.  A new study by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee found that male fathead minnows became altered behaviorally after exposure to Zoloft and Prozac.  In some cases the minnows became super aggressive and killed female minnows.

Studying human-environment interaction is incredibly difficult.  There are just so many interrelationships we have no clue about.  In the case of medicine and negative side effects in wildlife we need to reevaluate the types of drugs and the amount consumption of said drugs at societal and individual levels if we desire to be better stewards of the environment.

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