The Kenwood Press
: 05/15/2014

Rodenticides get the boot – another win for wildlife

Sharon Ponsford

Year after year, I had the same conversation with the man who came to our home and put “bait boxes” under our house to help control a problem with mice eating venting and wiring materials. I would remind him that I work with wildlife, am an advocate for all animals, and the last thing I wanted to do was use something that would harm anything but the pesky mice. Year after year, he assured me that only the mice and rats could fit into those bait boxes and eat the bait and that absolutely nothing else was in danger. Whether he knew it or not, he was wrong!

Rodenticides (rat poisons) are nasty poisons that result in a most excruciating death by causing the unlucky creature who eats them to internally bleed to death – slowly. It’s all water under the bridge now as to why I readily accepted what the pest control man told me, or why I didn’t investigate these products myself. I feel awful knowing that we used these products, and that the mice that ate them had such a terrible end. Needless to say, I stopped the pest control service and now not only am I not using these poisons, but I have been advocating to anyone else who will listen to stop using them as well. As of July 1, I might be able to relax a little bit, as the retail sale of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides to consumers will be halted and these products will no longer be on the market.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is to be applauded for making the decision to stop the sale of products such as D-Con. These products will still be available to licensed pest control operators, but I think the end is in sight for them to use rodenticides as well.

Reckitt Benckiser Group, which makes D-Con, sued the state and made all kinds of absurd claims about what might happen to us without their products. Fortunately, Reckitt-Benckister lost in court on Friday, May 9. Good news for wildlife. Bye bye, D-Con!

Why is this a big win for wildlife? The mice and rats that ingest the rodenticides may take many days to die and, in the meantime, they are an easy target for predators, who in turn, get poisoned themselves.

WildCare, the wonderful wildlife rescue facility in San Rafael, tests all their predatory animal patients and sends the samples to U.C. Davis to be analyzed for rodenticide exposure. It was found that the vast majority of these animals were testing positive for secondary poisoning. These poisons build up in the body, resulting in all sorts of health problems, including death. What is really tragic about this is that these animals – owls, hawks, foxes, opossums, raccoons and skunks – all provide natural rodent control for us, so really there is no need for rat poisons!

Foxes, whose diet consists of a great deal of mice, are especially in trouble. Last year my husband and I rescued a fox from a local resort and as soon as I saw it I knew that the problem was poison. It was heartbreaking to see such a beautiful little creature in such condition. He was trying to get away from us, but could hardly stand up. When I called to check on him the next day, I was told he had died during the night.

One thing we know for sure: wildlife, pets, and even children will be much safer without D-Con on the shelves.