It’s good news for the birds in Delta and elsewhere in B.C.
The provincial government last week announced a temporary ban on the widespread sale and use of second-generation rodenticides, a move aimed at helping to protect owls and other wildlife from secondary poisoning while government conducts a science review and steps up the promotion of alternatives.
Effective July 21, 2021, the sale and use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARS) is prohibited for 18 months.
SGARS are more powerful than the previous generation of rodenticides and increase the risk of the secondary poisoning of other animals who consume poisoned rodents.
According to East Ladner-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL), rodenticides may not have been intended for raptors and other predators, but it is not selective in what it kills.
Despite what many people are told, and what is written on labels, no poison is safe to use, OWL warns.
“When rodents eat the poison bait, death can take several days and before they die, they are free to roam. During this time they become weakened from internal bleeding, which makes them easier prey for predators and in turn poisons them. Many studies have been done and show that a wide variety of species contain traces of rodenticides, not just hawks and owls. Foxes, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and even pet cats and dogs can contain traces,” the bird of prey rescue organization explains.
In response to calls by local residents for the City of Delta to seek an alternative way to deal with the rodent population, due to pesticides being too destructive to other animals, an outdoor trial began last fall for seven civic facilities in Ladner and Tsawwassen using snap traps in place of anti-coagulant rodenticides.
The selected sites were areas identified as having a higher likelihood of non-target predators present that could potentially be poisoned, a staff report notes, adding the purpose of the trial is to determine the effectiveness of outdoor mechanical trapping prior to eliminating rodenticides at all municipal facilities.
Delta’s indoor rodent control is accomplished exclusively through mechanical trapping.
In addition to the outdoor trial, a study was to get underway at the Delta Community Animal Shelter on a new self-resetting trap.
Those traps are advertised to kill a rodent, release the carcass, and reset automatically without human intervention.
Nearby predators can scavenge rodents killed by the trap, thereby reducing the need for staff or contractor handling and associated costs.
Meanwhile, the city won’t be introducing a bylaw prohibiting rat poison for private commercial or residential use.
The report explains local governments only have the authority to restrict pesticide use for cosmetic landscaping purposes on residential or municipal lands.
Since rodents are considered structural and not cosmetic pests, local governments cannot enact pesticide bylaws that ban the use of any formulation of rodenticide.
The province last week also noted that exemptions to the temporary SGARS ban include when use supports agricultural production and food safety. Health services, such as hospitals, food processing and storage facilities, restaurants and grocery stores, are also exempt.
The Rodenticide Action Plan also includes increased public information activities to raise awareness of the risks of SGARS, the benefits of alternatives and the promotion of the integrated pest management system to reduce unnecessary pesticide use.