Rodenticide Use Restricted in CA Wildlife Habitat Areas
On September 19th, California bill banning the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) in certain wildlife habitat areas was approved by Governor Jerry Brown.
The bill, AB 2657, prohibits the use of rodent poisons containing second generation anticoagulants brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, and difethialone in California state parks, state wildlife refuges, and state conservancies.
The push to keep these substances out of wildlife areas began as evidence mounted that SGARs can have harmful ecosystem-wide effects where they are applied. Predators and scavengers who feed on poisoned rodents may become sick or even die if they receive a lethal dose. Many non-target species are also at risk of direct poisoning through the consumption of rodenticide baits. Indeed, numerous scientific studies have reported the deaths of birds, bobcats, mountain lions, and other wildlife species following application of SGARs. Not only are these deaths destructive to natural ecosystems, also lost are the valuable rodent control services that these wildlife predators provide.
As passed, the bill—authored by California State Assembly member Richard Bloom—protects significantly less wildlife habitat than was originally proposed. The original version of the bill planned to expand the ban beyond state parks and wildlife areas to “any wetlands, animal sanctuary, conservancy, state or national park, and any area of habitat that is protected for any endangered or threatened species, including animals, birds, fish, and insects.”
This proposal would have covered significantly more pubic land compared to the amended version of the bill. According to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, there are over 300 species in California that are listed or proposed as threatened or endangered—inhabiting a total area of about 16 million acres. In contrast, the state parks and wildlife refuges protected by the amended bill cover an area of about 2 million acres.
Nonetheless, the new restrictions on SGAR application are a step in the right direction, and will help protect some of the vulnerable California species that reside in state parks and refuges.