For Immediate Release, December 12, 2019

Contact:

Jonathan Evans, (510) 844-7118, jevans@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered California Foxes, Other Wildlife From Super-Toxic Rat Poisons

OAKLAND, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a formal notice of intent today to sue California pesticide regulators for failing to protect endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, California condors and 11 other endangered species from “super-toxic” rat poisons.

More than 70 percent of wild animals tested in California in recent years have been exposed to dangerous rodenticides. That includes 85 percent of mountain lions and bobcats statewide and 87 percent of endangered kit foxes near Bakersfield.

Five years ago the California Department of Pesticide Regulation prohibited the sale of super-toxic rat poisons to the general public. But in light of ongoing harm to protected wildlife, today’s legal action asks the state to extend that prohibition to agricultural users and licensed pest-control operators.

“We must put an end to the slow, painful deaths of wildlife from these reckless super-toxic poisons,” said Jonathan Evans, legal director of the Center’s environmental health program. “With safer alternatives on the market today, it’s time for California to prohibit these dangerous poisons.”

Harm to wildlife from rodenticide poisoning is widespread, especially from super-toxic rat poisons known as second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. A 2018 state analysis documented these rat poisons in more than 85 percent of tested mountain lions, bobcats and protected Pacific fishers, prompting state regulators to open a new evaluation of whether to further restrict or ban the powerful toxic chemicals.

The endangered San Joaquin kit fox has been particularly hard hit by these rat poisons. In the Bakersfield area, more than 87 percent of kit foxes tested have been exposed to the toxic substances. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has attributed the deaths of at least five kit foxes to second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides.

“There’s no reason to leave the worst of the worst poisons on the market,” said Evans. “There are safe, cost-effective options readily available that don’t indiscriminately kill wildlife.”

Background
Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding that leads to death. Super-toxic poisons include the second-generation anticoagulants brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum, which are especially hazardous and persist for a long time in body tissues. Predators and scavengers that feed on poisoned rodents are frequently poisoned by these slow-acting rodenticides.

The harm caused by second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides in California is well documented. More than 70 percent of wildlife tested in California in recent years has been exposed to dangerous rodenticides, including more than 25 different species.

Effective, affordable alternatives to rat poison include rodent-proofing homes and farms by sealing cracks and crevices and eliminating food sources; providing owl boxes in rural areas to encourage natural predation; and using traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

For more information on nontoxic rodent-control methods, visit SafeRodentControl.org.

San Joaquin kit fox
San Joaquin kit fox/courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.