Take Action. An explosion in cannabis agriculture activity on the North Coast of California has resulted in a higher degree of public understanding of the dangers of rat poison. On repeated occasions large amounts of rat poison have been found at damaging marijuana grow sites; the poisons have been cause for concern most especially in grow operations established in the remote and wild reaches of our National Forest lands. There is growing evidence of the horrible impact of the use of these super toxic poisons in trespass marijuana grow operations, and how they are killing endangered species. Closer to home these poisons can kill wildlife, and present mortal harm to our children and families.
Following the lead of community members, EPIC has been a part of organic and locally based organizing efforts advocating for a voluntary commitment by retailers and residents to ban the sale and use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. We know that voluntary action may not be enough, but we also know that people acting together is where real change originates. The environmental harms associated with poorly managed marijuana agriculture are having an indisputable impact on natural and human communities on the North Coast. Taking action through securing the passage of a resolution from the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors that urges residents and storeowners to halt usage and sales of these poisons was a great community success. The passage of the resolution this past spring was effective in bringing people from different walks of life together to send a message to the public and to policy makers about the urgent need to eliminate these poisons from our rural residences and working places.
The public has learned that it is not only in producing nasty Pollution Pot (poorly planned and egregiously operated grow operations, often associated with thoughtless road building and clearing of land, the use of pesticides, and the abuse of scarce and invaluable public trust water resources) that these poisons are being used. The fact is that these poisons have become a widespread and common danger in residential, agricultural, and industrial workplaces across Northwest California—and yet there are a multitude of safe alternatives for rodent control, including natural predators. We don’t have to poison our families and wildlife to live and work in rural Northwest California.
Right now you have an opportunity to ask the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to protect our wildlife, pets, and children by banning super-toxic rat poisons. Take action today!
UNDERSTANDING RAT POISON AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT YOU
Widespread use of rodenticides is resulting in unintended poisoning of children, pets and wildlife. Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) work by interfering with normal blood clotting and result in a slow agonizing death by internal bleeding.
These poisons are often referred to as “super toxics” and they pose an unreasonable risk to non-target species. Between 1999 and 2009, the American Association of Poison Control Centers documented 160 severe domestic animal incidents each year and an average of 17,000 human rodenticide exposures each year, approximately 85 percent of which occurred in children younger than six.
SGARs harm numerous different types of wildlife in California. Studies show that more than 70 percent of wildlife tested in California has been exposed to SGARs. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, documented animals harmed by rodenticides since 1994 include the coyote, gray fox, San Joaquin kit fox, raccoon, fox squirrel, bobcat, red fox, gray fox, mountain lion, black bear, Hermann’s kangaroo rat, bald eagle, golden eagle, Canada goose, great-horned owl, barn owl, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk, turkey vulture and wild turkey. Since animals typically retreat to their dens, burrows or other hiding places in the final stages of anticoagulant poisoning, the number of non-target wildlife killed by these compounds is likely to be much greater than we know.
In our region, law enforcement has found numerous industrial marijuana grow sites located on public lands with thousands of plants and large quantities of super toxics. Non-target species such as the fisher, which is a prime candidate for protections under the Endangered Species Act, are being found dead near these industrial grow operations with lethal doses of SGARs in their system. A study authored by Mourad Gabriel found that almost 80 percent of fishers found dead by researchers between 2006 and 2011 had been exposed to high levels of SGARs.
EPIC has joined forces with the Safe Rodent Control Coalition to address safety concerns for SGARs and to ban the use of SGARs in California. The bottom line is that these super toxics are unnecessary and obsolete. There are too many serious risks associated with their use, and plenty of cost effective alternatives to address rodent infestations.