In March 2014, the California State Department of Pesticide Regulation banned the use of the most toxic sort of rodenticides by the general public. This is certainly a step in the right direction. In March 2013, YAAS included the following article in our newsletter about the use of these poisons, and steps you can take to avoid using them.
No doubt you’ve read or heard that the Environmental Protection Agency initiated action to ban the use of d-Con rat poison products earlier this year. The ban and previous regulatory attempts were primarily aimed at making the packaging safer to prevent accidental poisoning of children. This step by the EPA is an important one in terms of protecting our loved ones. At the same time, d-Con and other rodenticides are still widely available and create significant poisoning hazards for non-targeted wildlife.
The rodenticides that are most toxic to wildlife other than the pests they are intended to kill are anti-coagulants, which work by causing the animal to bleed to death. With the first generation anticoagulants, the animals will usually die in their holes or burrows, out of reach of predators or scavengers. The most troubling of the poisons are the second generation anticoagulants, which do not result in immediate death, but can be eaten over several days. When the animal finally dies or is near death, the toxins have accumulated in the tissues and often the animal is outside its burrow, allowing predators and scavengers to easily capture and eat the poisoned carcass. The birds or mammals eating the poisoned rodents then in turn are killed by the poison and can be eaten by other animals. And on up the food chain it goes. Brand names which contain this second group of poisons include d-Con, Hot Shot, Generation, Talon, and Havoc.
The American Bird Conservancy states that UC California researchers have found second-generation anticoagulant residues in 70 percent of the mammals examined and 68 percent of the birds.
Let’s face it: rats, mice and gophers can all be really pesky pests, causing damage to valued plants and ruining foodstuffs as well as being disease vectors. Cute as they are sometimes, if we’ve got critters in the wrong place at the wrong time, we want them out! So what to do in place of using the toxic rodenticides?
* Don’t leave pet food outside overnight
* Store food in rodent-free containers
* Keep garbage areas clear
* Pick up fallen fruit
* Plug holes in buildings, eliminating gaps larger than 1/4 inch wide (pencil eraser size)
* Use gravel breaks along foundations (rats don’t like to run on gravel) and break up ground cover areas to prevent hidden “runs”
* For gophers, use wire netting or gopher cages to protect plants (hardware cloth or 3/4 inch poultry netting)
If you’ve got the stomach for it, trapping is an option, but use only lethal traps, maintained regularly. These can include “snap” traps or electronic traps, but glue traps are not recommended as they aren’t especially effective and are not humane.
We featured Barn Owls in our last newsletter, and these are fearsome rodent catchers indeed. Consider putting up one or more Barn Owl nestboxes to encourage these wonderful birds to help keep the rodent population near your home in check.
Hungry Owl Project
Rodenticide Free Project
Raptors are the Solution (RATS)
Watch a video from RATS – Putting a Face on Rat Poison
Center for Biological Diversity
EPA’s Final Risk Mitigation Decision Web Page