Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 5, 2016

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (213) 598-1466
Lisa Owens-Viani, Raptors Are The Solution, (510) 292-5095
Courtney Fern, Humane Society of the United States, (213) 618-7335
Catalina Tresky, Defenders of Wildlife, (202) 772-0253    

57 Groups, Municipalities Urge Ban on Rat Poisons in California Cities

More Than 45,000 People Oppose Widespread Poisoning of Wildlife, Pets, Children

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— A coalition of 57 conservation, public-health, research and wildlife-rehabilitation groups, the city of Malibu, Marin County, the mayor of Richmond and more than 45,000 people have called for prohibitions on the most toxic rat and mouse poisons because of the unnecessary risk to wildlife, pets and children. The coalition will hold a rally today at the state capitol in Sacramento at 12:30 p.m. urging support for Assembly Bill 2596, introduced by California Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), and calling for an end to the misuse of toxic rodenticides. A.B. 2596 would restrict the most dangerous rodenticides that have been linked to the poisoning of people and animals in cities and communities across California.

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

“I am very aware that too many of our native wildlife, especially bobcats and mountain lions, have become severely ill and in many cases died after eating smaller animals in the food chain that were needlessly poisoned by rodenticides,” said Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), chair of the California Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. “Toxic-free alternatives are available. We can do better through the adoption of better management practices, elimination of the sale of rodenticides and the marketing of safer alternatives.”  

“Common-sense controls are needed to prevent these toxic poisons from killing California’s iconic wildlife and needlessly hurting our families,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity.

A.B. 2596 would ban some of the most dangerous rodenticides in residential and commercial areas where people, pets and wildlife are frequently exposed, but still allow their use to protect California’s agricultural economy and to protect public health and the environment during an emergency rodent or disease outbreak. The rally supporting A.B. 2596 will be held across the street from a meeting of the Pest Control Operators of California, which has come out in opposition to the bill.

“Every time we lose a hawk or owl to these poisons, we lose an important part of our free, nontoxic, natural solution to rodent control; each time it is a tragedy,” said Lisa Owens Viani, director of Raptors Are The Solution.

The harm caused by these poisons is widespread. More than 70 percent of wildlife tested have been exposed to dangerous rodenticides in California. Wildlife officials have documented poisonings in at least 37 different types of animals, including raptors (eagles, hawks, falcons and owls), bobcats, mountain lions and endangered wildlife such as the San Joaquin kit fox and Pacific fisher.

“A.B. 2596 will protect the unintended victims of these anticoagulant poisons, such as family pets and a wide range of bird and mammal species, who suffer immensely and die upon consuming the rodenticide either directly or by eating poisoned rodents,” said Courtney Fern, California director of the Humane Society of the United States.

More than 8,500 children under age 6 were poisoned with rodenticides in the United States in 2014, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The Environmental Protection Agency has found that children in low-income families are disproportionately exposed to the poisons. Thousands of incidents of pets being poisoned by rodenticides have also been reported, many resulting in serious injury or death.

“Our state’s wildlife — including highly imperiled species protected under the Endangered Species Act — are killed by these poisons every year and far more suffer from anemia, hemorrhaging and increased vulnerability to predation,” noted Pamela Flick, California representative with Defenders of Wildlife.

“This bill will go a long way to save our wildlife that is now being poisoned at massive and unacceptable levels throughout California,” said Kian Schulman, director of Poison Free Malibu.

A separate coalition of nonprofit organizations, municipalities, businesses and scientists formed the Safe Rodent Control Coalition to promote effective, affordable rodent-control strategies that protect children, pets and wildlife. Effective alternatives include rodent-proofing of homes and farms by sealing cracks and crevices and eliminating food sources; providing owl boxes in rural areas to encourage natural predation; and utilizing traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

What: Rally Against Dangerous Rodenticides
When: 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 5
Where: Sacramento Capitol Park, east of the state Capitol, on L Street between 12th and 13th streets and across from the Hyatt Regency (1209 L St., Sacramento, CA)
Who: Representatives of a coalition of more than 55 groups
Media availability: Protestors will be available for interviews before and after the rally and photos are available to the media here.
Visuals: Protestors with signs and banners

Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding that leads to death. Second-generation anticoagulants — including brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum — are especially hazardous and persistent 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, which subsequently results in the poisoning of nontarget animals that feed on their carcasses.

Steps taken by the state of California and the EPA in recent years to place greater restrictions on consumer use of dangerous rodenticides have not been effective in curbing wildlife poisoning. At least 26 California cities and counties have also passed resolutions urging the public and pest-control operators to avoid the most harmful rodent poisons, including San Francisco, Richmond, Malibu, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Davis, Belmont, Brisbane, Foster City, Whittier, Fairfax and Calabasas and Ventura, Marin and Humboldt counties.

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