A Californian, commercial pest controller, Wilmar Mejia, is more clear-headed about the dangers of using poisons to kill rats than his betters and rulers, the Californian politicians, who make the law on the use of poisons to control rats and other pests.
He used to use a blood thinner called ‘brodifacoum’ to kill rats but now prefers less toxic methods because he does not want to kill animals other than rodent pests.
Blood thinners or second generation anticoagulant rodenticides were responsible for the deaths of two big adult male mountain lions in Topanga Canyon State Park.
This year we had two adult males, big adult males who just dropped dead in the middle of Topanga Canyon State Park. [One] had five liters of blood in his abdominal cavity.
When a mountain lion (puma) eats the liver of a coyote after the coyote has eaten rats killed by these rodenticides they cause massive haemorrhaging which kills the cat. They are based on inhibiting vitamin K, a micronutrient critical for blood clotting.
Local authorities who want to ban them can’t because statewide laws would clash with a local ban. California restricts how local governments regulate pesticides.
However, it seems that the local authority of Malibu has found a workaround. The Coastal Commission in California is not subject to the regulations handed down by California state legislation (it is not subject to ‘preemption’).
The Coastal Commission will approve the anti-pesticide measures as an amendment to Malibu’s local coastal program in 2020.
It isn’t just the beautiful puma which is at risk from these nasty chemicals. A wide range of California’s wildlife suffers from the monarch butterfly to the endangered San Joaquin fox.
There seems to be a battle on in California’s Senate on how to limit pesticides because rats also cause health issues so it’s a balancing act, as usual, between controlling rats effectively while limiting the damage to other animals.
However, my understanding of the use of pesticides in general is that it is dawning on lawmakers of all countries that their benefits are outweighed by the damage they do to wildlife. Better and more precise methods need to be found and used if humans are to find a way to live more harmoniously with nature.
Mr Mejia has the last (and wise) word:
Believe me, we need to keep the population of these vermin under control, by all means….But there are alternatives to poison, because poison is killing everything else.
SOME MORE ON POISON: