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A Victory for Wildlife

Great Horned Owl. Photo by Melanie Piazza
Most of the Great Horned Owls tested by WildCare have some level of rat poison in their blood. Photo by Melanie Piazza  

Rat Poisons to be Removed from Store Shelves in July 2014

If you're a WildCare supporter, you probably already know that when a hawk or owl or other predator eats a rat that has been poisoned, that predator gets poisoned too.

But many people do not know about this effect (called secondary poisoning), and aren't aware of the dangers rat poisons present to wildlife. In fact, they are the most dangerious to the very animals nature provides to control rodent populations.

Since rat poisons are sold at the local hardware store, many people see them as a safe and viable solution to a rodent problem.

But these products are dangerous, the awareness of which has led the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to adopt a regulation that will make many of them "California restricted materials."

In effect, this means that the poisons will no longer be sold on store shelves and they will be out of reach to the general consumer.

Story continues below...


Donate to support rodenticide testing

WildCare tests our predatory patients for rodenticide exposure, and this lab work is expensive. But the shocking data are helping anti-rodenticide campaigns in the San Francisco Bay Area and across the nation.


In 2013, 76.8% of tested animals were positive for rodenticide in their blood. These are animals that eat rodents, and provide free rodent control in the environment. Rat poison is killing them too.


We need your help! WildCare believes strongly in the value of this testing, and the resulting data are invaluable, but each rodenticide panel costs $110.


Donate today to help us continue testing!

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spacer2.gif Baby Barn Owl with leg in a cast
This baby Barn Owl broke his leg in the fall from his nest. Baby owls of all species are at risk from eating poisoned rodents. Photo by Melanie Piazza
Gray Fox kit being examined. Photo by Melanie Piazza spacer2.gif 
Gray Foxes like this young orphaned patient represent the highest percentage of positive results. These little animals are fantastic rodent control, so their poisoning is extremely disturbing. Photo by Melanie Piazza  
Family of Gray Foxes. Photo by Susan Mark  
A healthy family of Gray Foxes in your yard are not only thrilling to observe, they provide free rodent control! Photo by Linda Campbell  
Rat at birdfeeder. Photo by Laura Lind  
Rat at a bird feeder. Photo by Laura Lind
Bring bird feeders inside at night and sweep up all spilled seed to prevent rodent visitors.
Red-tailed Hawk poisoned by rodenticides. Photo by A Hermanc  
A Red-tailed Hawk poisoned by rodenticide shows the tell-tale bleeding from eyes and nares that indicate anticoagulant exposure. Photo by Alison Hermance  
Raccoons at WildCare. Photo by Christine Margle  
Raccoons eat lots of rodents and will keep your property free of rodent infestations, unless they are poisoned. Photo by Christine Margle  

This is fantastic news for wildlife, if for no other reason than it will make consumers think twice about the wisdom of deliberately introducing deadly toxins into their own homes and yards.

But the fight against rodenticides isn't over yet. In a recent article featuring WildCare on the front-page of the Marin Independent Journal (click here to read the article), reporter Megan Hansen writes that


"Reckitt Benckiser, the UK-based consumer products company that makes d-Con, filed a lawsuit last week against the California Department of Pesticide Control for halting the sale of the rodenticide. The lawsuit alleges the state overstepped its authority and has exposed California residents to health risks because they won't be able to get rid of rodents in their home."


WildCare disagrees with this assessment! Despite what the manufacturers of rat poisons want you to believe, it is rarely necessary to resort to poison to control a rodent problem!

Rodents are an integral part of the environment, and they are the primary food source for most of the predatory animals in our area. It is not possible, nor is it desirable, to eradicate rodents outside.

However, most people do not want rodents inside their homes or damaging their property. The following information will help you effectively eliminate rodent problems without resorting to the use of rat poisons.

The best method of rodent control is prevention. Rodents tend to set up camp in our homes and businesses when food and space are made available to them.

Remove potential rodent homes like yard debris, trash, construction waste, etc. Remove ivy from on and near structures. Consider removing dense ground-covering plants too. Rats and mice are prey animals, and they much prefer to cross open spaces with the protection of covering vegetation. Removing hiding places deters rodents or makes them more visible to their natural predators.

Eliminate food sources. Keep your garbage completely sealed with lids closed and secured. Keep bulk food, seed, and dry pet food in metal cans with secure lids.  Pick up fallen fruit. Take birdfeeders inside at night. A significant percentage of nuisance rodent calls to WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline (415-456-SAVE) relate back to the presence of spilled seed from bird feeders. Place a tray to capture seed under your feeder and empty it nightly, and/or sweep up spilled seed every evening.

Exclude rodents from your home. Seal openings 1/2 inch or larger around the outside of your house with metal, concrete, or Stuf-fit Copper Mesh Wool, which can be found online or at hardware stores.

Include natural rodent predators in your solution. A family of five Barn Owls can consume up to 3,000 rodents in breeding season. Placing a nest box to encourage a family of owls to make your property home can be a great alternative to commercial pest control methods. DO NOT erect an owl box if you or anyone in your neighborhood is using poison, however. Please visit www.hungryowl.org for more information.

Use catch-and-release traps as a safe, sanitary, and humane solution. Catch-and-release traps will allow you to remove rodents from inside your home, but you must prevent their return by sealing entrance and exit holes and removing attractants (see above). Remember it is illegal in the state of California and cruel to relocate animals (click to learn why), so trapped rodents should be deposited outside once entry points have been sealed.


Need advice? Call WildCare's Living with Wildlife Hotline415-456-SAVE (7283)