Poison bait boxes intended to kill rats placed in public places such as restaurants, schools and shopping centres are killing bobcats and mountain lions in California and elsewhere.
What happens is that the rodent poison may kill or disable a rat but that rat may be prey for a bobcat and so it poisons the bobcat as well, moving up the food chain, spreading throughout the ecosystem and decimating urban carnivore populations in open spaces across California and nationally. The human is at the top of the food chain and we are told approximate 10,000 children a year are accidentally exposed to these sorts of poison baits.
The most common type of poison is anticoagulant rodenticide. It causes, as you can imagine, uncontrollable internal bleeding. The poisoned animal suffers an agonising death. Apparently it can take weeks to kill the animal as the weakened immune system produces extreme emaciation and dehydration together with mange.
The petitioner, Grace Lee, on the change.org website states that the statistics are alarming. Grace says that there’s been a complete loss of bobcats from many open space areas in Conejo Valley, California due to an increased vulnerability to mange caused by exposure to rodenticides.
Of one hundred and four mountain lions tested in California between the dates of 2005 and 2011, an astonishing 79% had signs of being poisoned by rodenticides.
Many animals consume poisoned rodents. This is not just about mountain lions and bobcats. Other animals consuming poisoned rodents include owls, hawks, kestrels, vultures, foxes, badgers, snakes, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, black bears to name some examples.
There are alternative ways to control rodents without using poison. It seems that poison is the easy and careless way to control rodents but the collateral damage appears to be enormous and it must be unacceptable to any decent thinking and decent minded person.
Examples of ways to control rodents are: strict sanitary policies, keeping areas clean, creating rodent proofing environments and keeping trash bins tightly closed.
Fortunately, there are places where there is a ban on anticoagulant rodenticides. One example is the County of Los Angeles. The ban needs to be wider.
The petition by Grace Lee urges legislators to ban these sorts of poisons in California and is addressed to the 39th Governor of California, Jerry Brown.
Domestic cats also vulnerable to be killed in the same way. This is about humankind being careless and uncaring about the consequences of his/her actions on wildlife.
My thanks to Dee for spotting this petition.