In addition to causing an excruciating death for rodents, rodenticides (poisons used to kill rodents) frequently fatally poison pets and wildlife who eat unprotected bait or, more commonly, receive secondary poisoning by ingesting dead or dying rodents who have consumed these poisons.
California regulators have taken the first step toward lessening this problem by proposing to restrict the sale of highly toxic rodenticides. This is great news, because these restrictions will make these poisons easier to monitor and reduce unintended exposures to non-target animals. At the end of this blog, we'll tell you how you can help.
As the San Francisco SPCA can attest, many pet guardians and caretakers unfortunately learn about secondary poisoning the hard way, when a beloved pet (including dogs and cats with outdoor access) or a community cat (an un-owned, feral or free-roaming cat living outside) dies. In urban areas like San Francisco, rodenticides are commonly used to kill rats and mice in homes, garages and storage buildings, despite the existence of more humane alternatives and the importance of prevention, like sealing holes. For local community cats who feed on rats and mice, these poisons can be especially dangerous.
Rodenticides have caused hundreds of confirmed deaths of birds and mammals in the wild throughout California, including eagles, hawks, owls, coyotes, squirrels, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions. Sadly, the actual number of non-target deaths is likely much higher, since animals typically retreat into hiding in the final stages of painful poisoning.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is currently accepting comments on its proposed rulemaking to restrict the sale of harmful rodenticides. Citizens looking to limit these toxins in our environment and to protect animals from accidental poisoning are encouraged to contact the Department and voice their support for these changes today.