Big Win for Wildlife


Last updated 10/14/2020 at 1:41pm

On Sept. 29, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Ecosystems Protection Act (AB 1788) into law, curbing the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), which have been linked to deaths of wildlife like mountain lions, foxes, and owls.

Since 2014, SGARs have been banned from commercial sale in California, but continued to be in legal use by licensed pest control companies. According to a report from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, between 2014 – 18, over 70 – 90 percent of wildlife tested in the state had SGARs in their systems, including animals from 25 species. As proponents of AB 1788 pointed out, this test showed that the consumer ban was not sufficient to protect California wildlife from being poisoned.

The new law places controls on anticoagulant rodenticides by the restricting the use of the most toxic ones, while the state re-evaluates the impacts that the products have on non-target wildlife, household pets and children. Some limited exemptions allow for continued use by licensed applicators, for agricultural activities, and to address true public health emergencies by rodent infestations. But advocates say AB 1788 is an important step forward in created a broad, statewide solution to wildlife deaths from the poisons.

“California’s wildlife is already stressed by wildfire and climate change,” ForestWatch Director of Advocacy Rebecca August, said. “Adding the constant threat of lethal poisoning is unnecessary and imperils the very survival of mountain lions, condors, the San Joaquin kit fox and other threatened or endangered animals.”

While in California, consumers are prohibited from purchasing any rodent poisons containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone, unfortunately the law does not apply in other states or online ordering.

Borrego has visitors and residents coming from other states. People that may bring rat poison with them. Borregans, including people who own rental properties, and pest control operators concerned with protecting wildlife from consuming and dying from these poisons, need to publicly and individually urge people unfamiliar with the law not to buy, bring, or use these poisons.

The law means California is the first state in the country to impose an all-out ban on SGARs with a few exceptions that include:

- Warehouses used to store foods for human or animal consumption.

- Agricultural food production sites, including, but not limited to, a slaughterhouse and cannery.

- A factory, brewery, or winery.

- Medical facilities, and drug and medical equipment manufacturing facilities.

- Places where people eat, shop, live and work – such as restaurants, grocery stores, homes, housing facilities, schools, and office buildings – are not exempt. SGARs also may be used during public health emergencies the bill did not define. - - Time will tell whether other states eventually enact similar laws.

- Treating Rodent Infestation

- If rats or mice are present in a home, it will take a combination of preventative measures and treatment options to get rid of them. The preventative measures include removing access to food, water, shelter, and to the home. The best treatment options are:

Promote Natural Predators: Natural predators such as snakes, hawks, and owls can help to control rodent populations by feeding on rats and mice. Barn owls are efficient hunters and a family of barn owls can eat as many as 3000 mice per year. To encourage barn owls to nest and stay, consider installing a nesting box. Strategic placement of nesting boxes combined with the use of traps and other preventative measures will go a long way to managing rodent problems.

Use Traps: Using traps instead of rodent poisons gives a clear confirmation of a captured rodent and provides a better method to gauge the effectiveness of treatment. Also, dead rodents are more easily retrieved, rather than dealing with the foul odor of rotting carcasses from poisoned rodents inside walls or otherwise out of reach. Most important, using traps is the better alternative to rodenticides, which pose a greater threat of exposure to children, pets, and non-target wildlife, including natural predators.

When using traps, take the following safety steps:

- Always read and follow the label instructions on the rodent control product.

- Be sure to place traps in locations where children and pets cannot access them or place traps in safety enclosure boxes.

- Cleaning up after trapping rodents

- The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following safety tips:

- Use gloves when disposing of dead rodents, nests, or any nesting material.

- Spray the dead rodent or nesting material with a disinfectant solution and allow them to soak for 5 minutes before disposing of rodent or materials in a secure plastic bag.

- Spray and wipe up the area surrounding dead rodent or nesting material with a disinfectant.

- Place the plastic bag with rodent or nesting material into another plastic bag along with any wipes or rags that were used to sanitize the surrounding area.

- Be sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.

For tips on cleaning up rodent urine and droppings, see the CDC’s Cleaning up after rodents page. Review all options before deciding on a treatment plan. To work with a pest control professional, be sure the company is Ecowise or GreenShield certified and familiar with Integrated Pest Management techniques.

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