Reward offered for information on poisoned dog; authorities investigating possible link to owner's research

The Center for Biological Diversity is offering a $2,500 reward for information about the fatal poisoning of a Blue Lake family's rescue dog that was fed meat laced with the same highly toxic rat poison that is the subject of his owner's research on how its use at large, illegal marijuana grows impacts wildlife.

The 10-year-old Labrador mix named "Nyxo" died Feb. 3 from concentrated brodifacoum poisoning, an anticoagulant found in De-Con rat poison.

"Nyxo was a handsome rescue dog who accompanied us on many research projects," said his owner Mourad Gabriel, an ecologist and wildlife biologist. "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."

Gabriel has been studying how pesticides used at remote illegal grows are negatively impacting local animal populations, including the endangered Pacific fisher and northern spotted owl.

Humboldt County Sheriff's Office Lt. Steve Knight said the office has not found anyone in Gabriel's neighborhood who was using De-Con, and it is believed that the person specifically targeted Nyxo. No other poisonings have been reported. He said a detective has been assigned to the case, and the investigation is looking into all possible scenarios, including a connection to Gabriel's research.

"We are looking into that possibility," Knight said. "It's a high priority case for us."

Gabriel found Nyxo having seizures, and discovered he had vomited red meat, which the family did not feed him. A necropsy performed at UC Davis found his death was the result of a "malicious poisoning," Knight said.

The environmental damage caused by toxins left at grow scenes in remote forest lands has garnered national attention in the last year, and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in May urging residents and businesses to stop the sale and purchase of rodenticides in the county.

Individuals wishing to contribute to the reward fund can visit, or call 520-623-5252, ext. 323. Donors are asked to note that the contribution is being made for Nyxo.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with information to call 707-445-7251 or the sheriff's office crime tip line at 707-268-2539.