At the end of March, California took a great step towards protecting wildlife, pets and people by passing a regulation restricting the use of certain deadly rat poisons, but now the move is being challenged by none other than the makers of d-CON.
California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) effectively banned the retail sale of second-generation anticoagulant-rodenticides, including d-CON, that continue to pose a threat to just about everything that lives. As of July 1, only licensed pesticide dealers will be able to sell them and only licensed or certified professionals will be able to use them under the new regulation and their use would be banned beyond 50 feet of man-made structures.
The move was a huge victory for a variety of wild animals who continue to suffer from the effects of their use. These poisons aren’t just deadly, but leave their victims to suffer a slow, painful and incredibly inhumane death from internal bleeding. Because these poisons work so slowly, victims may consume large quantities over days, and once they die they become a highly toxic meal for predators and scavengers as they work their way through the food chain.
Conservation organizations and the DPR have called it a statewide problem, citing studies that have found these poisons in a staggering 70 percent of wildlife that has been tested. They have also been found to have caused more than 160 severe poisonings of pets annually over a 10-year period.
Poisonings have been documented in dozens of wild species in California, including mountain lions, coyotes, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, northern spotted owls and a variety of other raptors. They’re not just a problem in developed areas either. Researchers have also found a link to their use at illegal marijuana farms in the middle of nowhere, which were found to threaten Pacific fishers who are candidates for endangered species protection in California, Oregon and Washington.
They’ve also been linked to other non-lethal problems for wildlife, including chronic mange in bobcats and mountain lions.
Considering all that, it only makes sense to pull these super-toxic poisons from store shelves; at least it seems to make sense to everyone but the manufacturers.
Now, Reckitt Benckiser, d-CON’s parent company, is suing the DPR to prevent a ban. The company is claiming that the state overstepped its authority and that the ban will pose a health risk to residents who will no longer be able to get rid of rodents.
Fortunately, wildlife and public health advocates aren’t giving up the fight to rid the world of these poisons.
“Reckitt Benckiser knows that California’s bold decision to take d-CON off the shelves is a preview of things to come in other states,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney with Earthjustice. “Reckitt is fighting hard to hold on to the past, but the corporation should know that we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure d-CON does not become the DDT of our time.”
Unfortunately, problems these poisons cause aren’t limited to California. The state’s move is part of a larger battle to get the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take regulatory action on the federal level to remove 12 d-CON poisons without tamper-resistant packaging from the consumer market over concerns about the risks they pose not only to wildlife, but to us.
According to the EPA, between 1993 and 2008, the American Association of Poison Control Centers got between 12,000 and 15,000 reports of children under the age of six being exposed to these types of products every year.
How We Can Help
A number of conservation organizations are urging us to avoid these indiscriminate killers and use other means to deal with nuisance species.
“We urge people to boycott all Reckitt-Benckiser products,” said Lisa Owens Viani, director of Raptors Are the Solution. “This company couldn’t care less about children, pets, and wildlife and we urge the public to let them know that this is unacceptable.”
According to a statement from the Center of Biological Diversity, some of the company’s other products include French’s mustard, Clearasil, Durex, Woolite and Lysol.
They’re also urging the us to use alternative measures to deal with “pests,” including rodent-proofing homes, eliminating food sources, providing owl boxes to encourage natural predation, using humane traps, like Havahart, and are pointing people to SafeRodentControl.org for tips.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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