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Council to oppose sale of rat poison

Local group’s efforts spurred by deaths of hawks, bobcats, mountain lions.

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Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 6:30 am

The Malibu City Council will place a resolution opposing the sale and purchase of rodenticide in the City of Malibu on an upcoming agenda. 

The resolution was spearheaded by the Malibu Agricultural Society, a group that promotes natural gardening practices and warns against the dangers of herbicides and pesticides, said Kian Schulman, the society’s secretary. 

Schulman said City Councilman John Sibert told her in an email he would be presenting the resolution to the council in the near future. 

“This really means a lot to us that we’ve got this resolution on the agenda,” she said. 

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that anticoagulants in rat poison can kill hawks, mountain lions and bobcats that catch poisoned rats. 

“The statistics on our wildlife are horrendous,” Schulman said. 

She said 74 percent of wild mountain lions and 95 percent of wild bobcats had been exposed to rodenticide in their systems over the past five years. 

Rodenticides have also been linked to poisoning in pets and children, she added. 

San Francisco, Berkeley and Marin are among other California cities where the sale of rodenticides is limited.

Malibu already bans the use of poison on city property and parks, Schulman said. 

The Malibu Agricultural Society first became aware of the problem when a mountain lion was found dead with traces of rodenticide in its system last October, Schulman said. 

“We said, ‘Well, what can we do? What can we do as a group?’” 

The society joined other groups, including the Topanga Wildlife Youth Project and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, in raising awareness about the dangers of rodenticides in California. 

The society first introduced the resolution to control the sale of rodenticide to the Malibu City Council in January 2013, Schulman said. 

Getting it on the agenda has taken time, but it was worth it, she said. 

“Having this resolution means a lot to our project,” she said. “It gives accreditation to what we say.” 

Another one of the society’s main goals is to educate people and companies about alternatives to poisoning, Schulman said. 

The society recommends people seal holes in their homes to stop rodents from entering them, and then use live traps to catch any rats that are left inside and release them outside. 

The society also advocated for local stores to stop selling rodenticide. 

The Malibu CVS, Ralphs, Pavilions, Anawalt Lumber and A & B Malibu Plumbing have all stopped carrying rodenticide, Schulman said. 

Anawalt Lumber hasn’t sold rat poison for almost a year, said Herbert Castio, a supervisor at Anawalt Lumber. 

“The community didn’t approve, so we’ve taken it off,” he said. 

The company that supplied the rodenticide said it only killed the animal that ate the poison first, but Malibu residents weren’t convinced, Castio said. 

“Most of the residents were very adamant about it being a secondhand kill. Whoever eats the rat, be it a cat or a dog or a wild animal, ends up dying as well,” Castio said. 

Although other stores in the Anawalt Lumber chain continue to sell rodenticide, Malibu is different. 

“There, you don’t have that whole wildlife situation that you have here,” Castio said. “Here it’s very different.” 

Anawalt Lumber still carries live animal traps and electronic pest deterrents, as well as traditional mouse traps, he said. 

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  • Dani Sue posted at 8:04 am on Mon, Jun 17, 2013.

    st0ked Posts: 151

    I would like to see a statewide ban. Rodenticides are labeled for indoor use only and the 'Garden Expert' at Home Deopt recommends DeCon for use in the garden. Aside from the damage to wildlife, how gross is it when one of those rat targets crawls into your walls to die emitting a death stench for weeks on end.

  • Snookie Ravioli posted at 10:27 am on Fri, Jun 14, 2013.

    Snookie Ravioli Posts: 1

    It seems to me that the ban on the sale of rodenticides in Malibu will have little or no effect on their use. There are plenty of adjacent communities where they are available. All the ban does is shift the sales a little further away. Most people would buy them in stores such as Target or Home Depot, anyway, since they are much cheaper there. The ban is not much of a deterrent, IMO.

  • Matt Horns posted at 6:16 am on Thu, Jun 13, 2013.

    Matt Horns Posts: 739

    I hugely support this proposal but in my opinion it does not go far enough to solve the problem. I support a ban on the sale AND THE USE of rodenticides in all of the Santa Monica Mountains. Here's why:

    During decades of exploring, studying, and working in the Santa Monica Mountains I have I have come to very a sad conclusion.

    As a child growing up in Mandeville Canyon, we were serenaded by two or three packs of coyotes every night. Grey foxes were common. My friends and I frequently saw signs of bobcats, badgers, and mountain lions (very secretive creatures) and occasionally actually saw these magnificent animals. I often saw many snake species including California king snakes, mountain king snakes, striped racers, garter snakes, gopher snakes, rubber boa, ring-necked snakes, and occasionally, my favorite local snake, the Pacific rattler. Ground squirrels were present in moderate numbers back then.

    As an adult working in watershed restoration throughout the Santa Monica Mountains since 1999, I have observed a major shift in predator/prey populations as compared to the 1970's. Populations of coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, foxes, badgers, king snakes, gopher snakes, striped racers, and rubber boas are much lower. For all of these creatures, ground squirrels are a favorite food source.

    I also see that see the population of ground squirrels has skyrocketed. Coincindence? I don't think so.

    From what I see, the only predator on ground squirrels that has increased in numbers is the Pacific rattler. This is because they do not engage in scavenging behavior. Unlike all the mammalian predators that eat dead carcasses that they locate using their sense of smell, rattlers hunt exclusively using heat sensors on their face. If a dead rodent is right in front of them, it won’t register with this sensory organ because it is not radiating heat.

    Growing scientific data are suggesting that the use of rodenticides in the Santa Monica Mountains are inadvertently (ironically) reducing populations of many predator species, and as a result are causing a boom in populations of ground squirrels, rats, mice, gophers, and other rodents that are generally considered “pests” that are targeted by the use of rodenticides. Rodenticides have surely killed hundreds more marsh voles than the Malibu Lagoon project did (total count: 2, both donated to the LA Museum of Natural History).

    My personal observations suggest that the use of rodenticides is not only decimating the ecosystem, but is also increasing the number of rattlesnakes in Malibu residents’ back yards. I love rattlesnakes, but some Malibu residents would rather avoid them.

    In conclusion:

    Banning the use of rodenticides in Malibu will have huge ecological benefits.