Feb 7, 2015

Pervasive pesticides

In late December, WES rescued an adult bobcat at the San Juan Oaks Golf Club in Hollister and an adult coyote off Beach Road in Watsonville.

Both animals were suffering from severe injuries, likely caused by a vehicle collision. 

The animals were transported to Adobe Animal Hospital in Los Altos, but neither could be saved - their injuries were just too severe.

Their lives ended, but they still had a voice = a story to tell. 

Before disposing of the carcasses we took samples of their livers and sent them to the Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova for testing. 

We wanted to see, by chance, if these two predators had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticide from eating poisoned rodents.

Sure enough, they both tested positive for Bromadiolone!

Bromadiolone is a potent anticoagulant rodenticide. It's so powerful it can be absorbed through skin. 

Bromadiolone is found in rat bait blocks and pellets. The bait is usually offered in a protected plastic box that only rats and mice can access.

Predators, like bobcats, foxes, coyotes, skunks, hawks, owls - even dogs and cats - are poisoned when they consume rodents that have eaten the bait. 

Last year, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation designated Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone, Difenacoum, and Difethialone (Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides or SGARs) Restricted Materials. As such, their availability to the general public is being restricted. After March 31st, 2015, products containing SGARs will still be be available for use by licensed pest control companies. The general public will have a harder time finding the products.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has also also imposed restrictions on the sale and use of products containing these poisons. An in-depth report on the EPA's decision can be found HERE.

After March 31st, 2015 and after all merchandise is gone from the shelves, these products will no longer be available to the average consumer, however, commercial applicators - licensed pest control companies and private applicators producing an agricultural commodity will still have access to products containing SGARs.

Under the new California regulations, placement of poison bait stations is, for the most part, restricted to above ground and no more than 50 feet from any manmade structure. Elsewhere in the country it is 100 feet.

Labeling continues to restrict use to control Norway rats, roof rats, and the house mouse - the SGAR labels explicitly prohibit use for control of any other pest species, meaning, they cannot be used to control woodrats or other rodent species.

Additionally, California passed Assembly Bill 2657, prohibiting use of products containing SGARs in wildlife habitat, such as state parks, wildlife refuges or state conservancy lands.

For more, see the CDPR Question and Answer Page HERE. Read Bill-2657 HERE.

The stricter regulations are certainly a step in the right direction, but until SGARs are banned altogether, wildlife will continue to be exposed through secondary poisoning.

Use of poison to control rats and mice is never a sound solution. 
Find a Humane Wildlife Control service provider HERE.

Check out the coyote and bobcat rescues, below.