Save Our Wildlife
Don’t Let Them Die, Protect Wild Animals from Rat Poison
Last updated 10/2/2020 at 12:01pm
AB 1788, the California Ecosystems Protection Act, which would place a moratorium on the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARS) except in cases of public health emergencies, is on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
The bill, which would be the first to enact a moratorium on super-toxic rodenticides, is sponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) the Center for Biological Diversity, and Raptors Are the Solution (RATs). While all anticoagulant rodenticides have a harmful impact on wildlife, SGARS are particularly dangerous because they have higher potency than prior generations of commercial poisons. A single dose has a half-life of more than 100 days in a rat’s liver. Considering the harmful impact of SGARS on ecosystems, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation banned the use of SGARS by consumers, limiting use to just professional pest control applicators, in 2014.
However, the impact of SGARS on wildlife has not decreased since then, meaning further action must be taken.
A 2018 analysis of 11 studies revealed that more than 85% of California mountain lions, bobcats, and Pacific fishers have been exposed to rodenticides. In addition to harming wildlife, children and companion animals are also vulnerable to rodenticides, accidentally consuming the poison intended for rodents.
Anticoagulant rodenticides disrupt normal blood clotting by interfering with the vitamin K cycle. Animals who consume FGARs or SGARs suffer from uncontrolled bleeding and ultimately may die. FGARs require rodents to consume the bait for several consecutive feedings before receiving a fatal dose. SGARs are more potent – a rat can die after just one feeding. But both generations of rodenticides pose a serious danger to children, wild animals, and pets.
Anticoagulant poisoning has been documented in numerous California wildlife species, including: coyotes, San Joaquin kit foxes, black bears, raccoon, mountain lions, bald eagles, great-horned owls, skunks, and bobcats. There is no way to determine the exact number of animals who have been killed, in part because animals typically retreat to dens or other hiding places in the final hours of their lives.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s analysis of 11 wildlife studies determined these poisons were documented in 88% of tested bobcats, more than 90% of tested mountain lions, and 40% of tested barred owls. The California Environmental Protection Agency documented rodenticide residues in 27 avian species and 17 mammalian species
In 2014, California banned consumer use of SGARs. But mountain lions are still dying. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s database of mountain lion deaths reveals anticoagulant rodenticides were found in the livers of 63 out of 68 deceased mountain lions between 2015 and 2016.
Some of the impacted animals are endangered or threatened.The analysis from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation also found seven out of ten threatened Northern spotted owls and more than 85% of Pacific Fishers were expected.
Young children routinely consume poison intended for rodents, confusing the bait for food. Similarly companion animals either consume the bait directly or consume poisoned rodents. Between 1999 and 2009, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) received reports of an average of 17,000 humans exposed to rodenticides annually. The vast majority, roughly 15,000, of these exposures involved children younger than six. The AAPCC reported more than 50,000 dog poisonings from rodenticides in 2014.
There are safer and less expensive alternatives to anticoagulant rodenticides. Exclusion and sanitation are the best approach to managing rodents. Sealing buildings, eliminating food and water sources, and trimming foliage and tree limbs from the sides and roofs of houses are important steps to reduce the presence of rodents.
For more information on rodenticide’s impact on wildlife, children, and companion animals, as well as ideas on to how to manage rodents without poisons, please visit: Safe Rodent Control or http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.vertebrate.html
Californians are being asked to contact Governor Gavin Newsom, and urge him to sign AB 1788:
For Borregans wishing to support this important legislation to save our wildlife from death by rat poisoning, the following is a sample text that can be delivered to the Governor’s office via email, fax, or phone call. Adding a personal note enhances the message.
Mail: 1303 10th St. Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814
Website: You could also visit https://govapps.gov.ca.gov/gov40mail/ to fill out the form with your first and last name, email address and choose subject “AB01788\Pesticides: use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides” to send your message. After you submit, it will take you to a new page and ask if you are “pro” or “con” on the issue, and you can type your message, max of 6,000 words.
“To the Honorable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California: Please sign AB 1788 and enact a moratorium on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. This commonsense legislation curbs the use of these super-toxic poisons until their re-evaluation by the Department of Pesticide Regulation determines they will have no significant adverse effect on non-target wildlife.”