CSI Investigation: Farmer's Crops

By: Annie Baron Period: 5

What's The Problem?

The problem is the large amount of crops eaten by mice from the farmer's field near Channahon, Illinois. In addition to the mice and the decreasing crop production, there have been 3 barn owls dead near Channahon as well.


What Did We Do To Investigate?

When we investigated, we used an owl pellet. The owl pellet was anonymous and wrapped in foil. What were we to find? Open up that pellet and you will find a big or small ball of fur entangled with lots of bones ranging from the femur to the skull to the scapula. Once we started dismantling the pellets, we were looking for all bones. Whether it was a tiny rib bone or a small skull, we need them all. After gathering all the bones, we went through the fur another time to make sure all the bones were out. After, we searched for the jaws and skull of the rodent. When looking for a jaw, we had to make sure we found two of them that matched: one left side and one right side. Why the jaw? To determine which rodent the owl ate, the jaws have to match up. Once you find matching jaws, next is the skull. The skull has to match with the jaws. If only one side of the jaw is present, it is likely that either the other half was digested, previously regurgitated, or crushed by the owl. After the matching jaws and the skull matched the jaws, the type of rodent was determined.

So, What's The Solution?

The solution to this problem is to examine more barn owls. Before investigating more owls, it is important to find the culprit of the poison. Once the poison is found, then more owl pellets should be examined to determine which rodents are being eaten. After many more rodents are found in the pellets, it's time to determine if those are the mice eating all the farmer's crops. The owl pellet that we examined contained three prey, and one of which included a mouse.

So, What's The Answer?

Yes, the death of the three barn owls could be causing all of the damage report on the Kruger farm. These owls have eaten the mice from the farm, which is possible that the owl ate a poisoned mouse (that was poisoned from the traps set on the farm by the farmer) which is why they ended up dead. A mouse that the owl ate could have been poisoned by the farmer, then eaten by the owl, which is why the owls ended up dead.

Explain, Please? Why Should You Know This?

The data generated in this experiment goes to show that the mouse eaten by the owl was a victim that was eating the crops from the farmer. This is true, because there were traps set on the field to eliminate the mice and the owl ate one of the mice. The mouse that the owl ate was poisoned from the traps, and got into the owls system which is why the owl was found dead. This information is important, because if the reader did not know about the traps on the field or the process of examining an owl pellet it would be a mystery. Without the examination of the owl pellets, the mice bones would not have been found and the fields would've continued to be eaten by those evil mice.