Rodenticides (Rodent Poison)
Rodenticides are expensive, counterproductive and incredibly destructive to wildlife and our shared environment. In 2012, 79.1% of raptors (owls, hawks etc) and other rodent consuming wildlife that were tested by our local wildlife hospital, WildCare, were found positive for secondary rodenticide poisoning.
Rodenticides provide a very slow and horrific death for rodents, usually taking several days after ingestion to actually kill. During those several days the rodent will still go out to find food and water. They will be sluggish and debilitated, and as a result, will be the first to be caught. Owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, mountain lions, foxes, herons, egrets, domestic dogs and cats and even children can be at risk. Rodenticides are a serious problem and one that negates the help these natural predators would otherwise provide. Without natural predators, rodent populations would explode.
Raptors and Rodenticides:
A deadly combination
THERE IS NO SAFE RODENT POISON!
(Despite the word of pest control operators )
Simply look up the Material Data Sheets for the active ingredient in any pesticide or rodenticide to verify this for yourself.
Commercial rodenticides contain an anti-coagulant rodenticide called brodifacoum (broh-dif'-a-coom) that causes secondary poisoning when raptors consume rodents that have been poisoned. In studies in both California and New York, brodifacoum was found to account for 80% of the secondary poisonings by rodenticides, even though it accounted for only 20% of sales. Brodifacoum is found in the following commonly used products: D-con, Talon, Havoc. It is extremely dangerous to birds through secondary exposure. It can harm pets as well if they consume a poisoned rodent. It is marketed as a "single feed" rodenticide, BUT the rodent takes several days to die and during that time it can continue feeding on the poison, so that is extremely toxic if eaten by a predator. The poison causes thirst which causes the rodent to go outdoors in search of water and this is when it is likely to get preyed on by raptors or cats.
Brodifacoum and other commonly used rodenticides are currently under review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) due to concerns about harmful effects on wildlife and the accidental poisonings of pets and children. There is NO safe rat poison that can be used around pets. Rodenticides are designed to kill. Treat any statement that products can be "safely" used with caution. (Barn Owl Trust, United Kingdom)
The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed implementing restrictions on the use of these poisons and received hundreds of public comments on its proposed mitigation, and the decision was due in 2007, but has continually been delayed. WildCare has had patients come in with suspected brodifacoum poisoning. In July 2007, two juvenile Cooper's Hawks were found dead in a wading pool in Berkeley. Both tested positive for rodenticide poisoning. Accidental or not, the death of raptors by use of rodenticides can be a Federal offense under certain circumstances. More importantly, raptors are a keystone species of the natural food web. The use of poison can cause the natural balance to actually tip in favor of the pest, as happened in the Mexican state of Chihuahua when rat poison killed cats and wildlife that preyed on rats, resulting in the village of Atascaderos being over run with rats.
Please read this story for a first-hand account of someone using rodenticides. Imagine that instead of being about a rat, it's about your cat or your dog, or your child, or a beautiful coyote, hawk, eagle, or owl. This is from the perspective of a creature that eats rat poison: in PDF or HTML format.
Only one product has been available that kills rodents without causing secondary poisoning to other creatures: Rodetrol. Unfortunetly, this product is currently unavailable as it has been pulled from the market for "reformulating" and we have not been able to get any information on when it will become available again. This product is effective, especially when mixed with an attractant like peanut butter. Currently, it can be found only on e-Bay. Rodetrol does not use poison - it interferes with the unique water absorption system of rats.
Rodents are an important link in the food chain for many species of wildlife in addition to hawks and owls. Secondary poisoning has been documented in such top predators as mountain lions in Ventura County, CA prompting severe restrictions on the use of poisons in public parks and open space. There are native rat species that belong in the environment, such as Wood Rats (aka Pack Rats), as well as the non-native roof and Norway rats that we are more likely to see in or around our buildings. Dusky-footed Wood Rats should never be persecuted or poisoned as they are the favored prey of the endangered Northern Spotted Owl, and are not generally found in or near human habitations. Oppossums are also very likely to eat any rat poison placed out doors. Poisoning rodents, including gophers & moles, destroys the balance and can make rodent problems much worse. If you are seeing rats/mice outdoors - consider the philosopy of Live and Let Live examine your yard to see what food and harborage you may be providing for rats. Exclusion and sanitation are the most effective means of solving a rodent problem in or around the home!