Alternatives to Rodenticides

GOAL

I am trying to raise awareness regarding the dangers faced by CTs wildlife in relation to mouse and rat poisons. Since you are on our email list, I felt you may find what I have to say of interest.

I am no expert on poisons, but recently, I have been forced to learn more than I ever wanted to know. I am also not of a political mind, so finding the solution has proven frustrating. The bottom line is, I am witnessing our wildlife die unnecessarily at an alarming rate and I can no longer stay silent. Please let me explain.

MODERN EXPECTATIONS

Mouse and rat infestations, or even sightings, upset many from businesses to homeowners. No one wants to live with rodents or have them destroy property. Modern man expects immediate solutions and pest control product labels along with pest management companies thrive on this issue. These companies have the ability to offer the solution most businesses and homeowners demand by quickly eradicating pests with the use of First and Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide Poisons. Therefore, making everyone happy.

REALITY

The sad reality is that these poisons kill more than their targeted victims. Secondary poisoning is taking place at an alarming rate. A Place Called Hope admits countless birds of prey, including CTs Endangered barn owl, who have predictably consumed the poisoned rodents which are their primary natural diet. We are killing our wildlife with the very foods that they are designed to predate upon in what used to be a natural food web and a balanced ecosystem.

RODENTICIDES USED

By the time a poisoned raptor makes it to our clinic, it is often too late for us to save them. First Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide Poisons (FGARs) work by causing its victim to bleed to death after consuming the bait. This poison has a cumulative effect and builds up in the system to take down ultimately, any sized victim. The poisoned mouse or rat target victim does not die immediately, so it becomes easy prey to all kinds of natural predators who are only seeking a meal to survive. When a secondarily poisoned bird is admitted at our Center, it is often lethargic, seizing, and bleeding out. The result is an agonizing death.

Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide Poisons (SGARs) are even more dangerous. Enough so, that the EPA has made this product more exclusive to extermination companies and farmers and not so easily obtained by the average consumer.  Yet regulations for use by these companies and of these products are not properly understood or monitored in our state. After years of relying on FGARs, the rodent populations have adapted and have become more resistant. Extermination companies are no longer achieving the rapid results they were paid to provide so SGARs are the new choice method. Same concept, the victims are poisoned and ultimately bleed out. The problem is this toxin remains longer in our environment and is more potent at even a smaller dose killing even more non-targeted wildlife. It is further complicated by the fact that the intended victim can eat a large amount before succumbing to the effects and is now an even more potent toxic meal for the non-targeted victim who is simply eating its prey. Unlike FGARs, these SGAR poisons can kill larger victims without a cumulative effect.

Keep in mind that cases of these unintentional poisonings affect children and household pets and are not exclusive to our predatory wildlife.

THE SCIENCE TO BACK THIS UP

APCH has started a collection of scientific data by submitting suspected victims to UCONN for necropsies and liver panels to identify the rodenticides involved. We are finding both FGARs and SGARs, but primarily the SGARs are the culprit. Dr. Maureen Murray, Director of TUFTS Wildlife Clinic in MA, has been studying the effects of rodenticides on our wild birds of prey for over 10 years. The concerning data she has collected in her most recent 2020 study is revealing with 100% of the 43 red tailed hawks tested resulting positive for both FGAR and SGAR poisons, with SGARs being the most prevalent.

OUR PROPOSAL

We are seeking stronger laws to protect our wildlife in CT. We would like to see a Bill to ban both FGARs and SGARs but have been told the ask is too great. So instead, and as a starting point, what we propose is a ban on SGARs and regulations on FGARs which would eliminate their use on State owned properties or land including wildlife habitat. Like our neighboring states of MA and NJ, we propose that pest product labels and extermination companies are required to provide businesses and homeowners with a consenting document that contains factual evidence regarding the devastating effects these poisons are having on our wildlife and environment as well as the risks imposed upon our very own children and pets. It seems most people do not understand the chain reaction, and when informed, they are easily persuaded to do what is right and use safe non-toxic alternatives despite the more involved process required.

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

If only the extermination companies were encouraged and recognized by consumers for providing the countless alternatives that are just as effective when the efforts are put forth and consistency is practiced. If together we could support this ban on such harmful toxins, we could achieve a safe alternative model. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can achieve the same results as poisons but will require more patience from the public. Snap traps, zap traps, live traps, exclusion work, repellants, owl boxes, etc. are acceptable ways to deal with the same issue while eliminating the devastation anticoagulant rodenticides are inflicting upon non-targeted victims. No out-of-pocket money is needed from our State to fix this issue. Just information! We also feel this solution is ultimately ideal to the very companies providing rodent removal services, as it will require more professional visits to eliminate the pests, resulting in worthwhile profits. We can all agree that our children, our pets, and our wildlife are worth it.

SUPPORT OUR ASK

We realize the resistance will be from large chemical corporations producing these poisons, extermination companies using them, and politicians supported by such, but we can no longer sit silent as we are seeing a dramatic rise in these cases firsthand. From where I stand, as I physically cradle a secondarily poisoned hawk, falcon, or owl victim in hand, I am outraged. This unnecessary suffering is shameful when there are alternative solutions readily available. Let’s use and promote them. Consumers will dictate the demand, so make your voice heard.

Please help our children, our pets, and our wildlife by choosing alternatives despite the less immediate result. It is worth it to preserve our wildlife for the future. Write your legislators to support a ban on Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticide Poisons in CT. Feel free to respond to hope4raptors@yahoo.com with your ideas to assist in this cause.

Sincerely,
Christine Cummings, President
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