Letter: A complete ban on rodenticides is necessary

We simply must find better methods of dealing with rodent issues

A complete ban on rodenticides is necessary

I am grateful to the City of Duncan for their announcement last week that they have joined with the CVRD and many other cities and municipalities across B.C. in banning the use of rodenticides. Earlier this year it was also very encouraging to learn that the B.C. government was imposing a ban on the use of these products. This is because the baits contained inside those little black boxes are known to be killing a lot more wildlife than just rats. In fact, we have been learning that secondary poisonings of birds and other animals who may consume a poisoned rat are all too common. Topping the list of poisoned non-target species is owls. Rats and other small rodents are an owl’s main prey, and they are known to consume as many as 1,000 or more of them in a year. Of course they also feed them to their young.

The province’s ban is only temporary and restricts the use of rodenticides for a year and a half while government says they will conduct a scientific review of the root causes of non-target poisonings. It sounds like they’re not yet convinced that the rat baits are actually implicated. Keep in mind that the chemicals currently in use are second generation rodenticides – the first generation rodenticides were becoming less effective and rat populations were rebounding.

Even with the provincial ban in place, poison rat baits are still in major use due to the many exemptions permitted. Exemptions include any agricultural production, food and health services, storage facilities, and restaurants and grocery stores. It’s easy to see how and why these poisonous baits are still in wide use, and why we continue to hear about owls and raptors turning up dead.

We now have a situation where we are killing the natural predators of the rats and the rats are continuing to thrive! The problem with rodenticides is becoming ever more clear — these are increasingly toxic substances that continue to be in use in spite of bans. They are poisoning the environment and causing suffering and death, including non-target species, especially those whose main prey are rodents. We simply must find better methods of dealing with rodent issues than simply placing deadly poisons outside our doors.

Jacqueline Sherk

Lake Cowichan