mountain lion

Protecting Wildlife from Harmful Poisons (California)

California Ecosystems Protection Act (AB 1788)


June 9, 2020

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Rodenticides (rat poisons) designed to kill rodents are poisoning California’s native wildlife. These persistent poisons are first consumed by rats, who in turn are consumed by other wildlife, resulting in secondary poisoning and contamination of the food chain. Poisoned animals frequently suffer slow and very painful deaths.

California: Urge Governor Newsom to Protect Wildlife from Super-Toxic Rat Poisons

Sign your name to an open letter to Governor Newsom urging him to immediately place a statewide moratorium on the use of the most toxic class of rat poisons.

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A 2018 analysis of 11 studies revealed that more than 85% of California mountain lions, bobcats, and Pacific fishers have been exposed to rodenticides. In addition to harming wildlife, children and companion animals are also vulnerable to rodenticides, accidentally consuming the poison intended for rodents.

Download the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s factsheet to learn more and hand out to friends and family.

California Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) are sponsoring AB 1788, the California Ecosystems Protection Act, which would ban the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) throughout the state, except for agricultural use or by special permit.

While all anticoagulant rodenticides have a harmful impact on wildlife, SGARs are particularly dangerous because they have higher potency than prior generations of poisons. A single dose has a half-life of more than 100 days in a rat’s liver! Considering the harmful impact of SGARs on ecosystems, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation banned the use of SGARs by consumers, limiting their use to just professional pest control applicators, in 2014. But the impact of SGARs on wildlife has not decreased since then, meaning further action is urgently needed.

AB 1788 also would ban the use of first generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs) on all state-owned land. If enacted, California will become the first state to prohibit these cruel products.

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We will need your help to enact AB 1788, the California Ecosystems Protection Act. Keep an eye on this page and follow our Facebook page for the latest news. Sign up for our action alerts to ensure you are notified when we need you to contact legislators.

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Fast Facts

When you’re gathering support for this bill, it’s important to be able to answer fellow Californian’s questions. Review these talking point to help explain why California needs this legislation.

With limited exceptions, the bill would ban the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) throughout the state and first generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs) on any state-owned property.

  • Anticoagulant rodenticides disrupt normal blood clotting by interfering with the vitamin K cycle. Animals who consume FGARs or SGARs suffer from uncontrolled bleeding and ultimately may die. FGARs require rodents to consume the bait for several consecutive feedings before receiving a fatal dose. SGARs are more potent – a rat can die after just one feeding. But both generations of rodenticides pose a serious danger to children, wild animals, and companion animals.
  • Warfarin, chlorophacinone, and diphacinone are first generation anticoagulant rodenticides.
  • Difenacoum, brodifacoum, bromadiolone, and difethialone are second generation anticoagulant rodenticides.

Anticoagulant poisoning has been documented in numerous California wildlife species, including: coyotes, San Joaquin kit foxes, black bears, raccoon, mountain lions, bald eagles, great-horned owls, skunks, and bobcats. There is no way to determine the exact number of animals who have been killed, in part because animals typically retreat to dens or other hiding places in the final hours of their lives.

Many California communities have already taken steps to protect both their residents and animals from the harmful effect of these poisons.

Children and companion animals are particularly vulnerable to rodenticide poisoning.

  • Young children routinely consume poison intended for rodents, confusing the bait for food. Similarly companion animals either consume the bait directly or consume poisoned rodents.
  • Between 1999 and 2009, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received reports of an average of 17,000 humans exposed to rodenticides annually. The vast majority, roughly 15,000, of these exposures involved children younger than six.
  • The AAPCC reported more than 50,000 dog poisonings from rodenticides in 2014

There are safer and less expensive alternatives to anticoagulant rodenticides.

  • Exclusion and sanitation is the best approach to managing rodents. Sealing buildings, eliminating food and water sources, and trimming foliage and tree limbs from the sides and roofs of houses are important steps to reduce the presence of rodents.
  • For more information on rodenticide’s impact on wildlife, children, and companion animals, as well as ideas on to how to manage rodents without poisons, please visit Safe Rodent Control.

These links are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement from the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The Animal Legal Defense Fund does not support the lethal control of animals.