Bookmark and Share

More press releases

For Immediate Release, February 21, 2013

Contact: Jonathan Evans, (415) 436-9682 x 318

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered California Fox, Other Wildlife From Rat Poisons

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a formal notice of intent today to sue the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox, golden eagle, Pacific fisher and other wildlife from unintended poisonings from “super-toxic” rat poisons. The notice outlines numerous studies documenting the poisonings and deaths of at least 25 wildlife species in California from super-toxic second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. 

San Joaquin kit fox pups
San Joaquin kit fox photo courtesy USFWS. Photos are available for media use.

“The endangered San Joaquin kit fox, majestic golden eagle and many other wildlife species are literally bleeding to death from these reckless poisons,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center. “The killing has gone on too long. Since there are now safe alternatives on the shelves it’s time to ban these poisons from the market.”

Harm to wildlife from rodenticide poisoning is widespread, especially from second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Studies have documented second-generation anticoagulants in more than 70 percent of wildlife tested. Wildlife poisonings and deaths have been documented in eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, bobcats, mountain lions, and endangered Pacific fishers and San Joaquin kit foxes.

The San Joaquin kit fox has been particularly hard hit by these rat poisons. Reports by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation document at least 76 separate incidents of San Joaquin kit fox poisonings from super-toxic rodenticides. In the Bakersfield area more than 87 percent of kit foxes have been exposed to these toxins. Even in remote areas, research has revealed unacceptably high levels of poison in an endangered forest predator, the Pacific fisher: 75 percent of fishers tested showed super-toxic rodenticide contamination.

“There’s no reason to leave the worst of the worst poisons on the market,” said Evans.  “There are safe, cost-effective options readily available that don’t indiscriminately kill wildlife.”

Alternatives to address rodent outbreaks in homes and rural areas include: elimination of food sources; rodent-proofing of homes and farms by sealing cracks and crevices; provision of owl boxes to encourage natural predation; and the use of traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding that leads to death. Super-toxic poisons include the second-generation anticoagulants brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum, which are especially hazardous and persist for a long time in body tissues. These slow-acting poisons are often eaten for several days by rats and mice, causing the toxins to accumulate at many times the lethal dose in their tissues. Predators or scavengers that feed on poisoned rodents are then also poisoned.

Poisonings have been documented in at least 25 wildlife species in California including: San Joaquin kit foxes, Pacific fishers, golden eagles, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, red-tailed hawks, kestrels, barn owls, great horned owls, long-eared owls, western screech owls, spotted owls, Swainson’s hawks, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, turkey vultures and crows.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of rodenticides.

Click here to learn more about the San Joaquin kit fox.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Go back