Press Release

Media Contact:

Sharon Donovan, Communications Director
Direct: (510) 859-9161
sharondonovan@earthisland.org

California Gov. Newsom Signs Bill Protecting Wild Animals from Super-Toxic Rat Poisons

California Leads the Nation on Safeguards for Second-Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides

Sacramento, CA (September 29, 2020) — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the California Ecosystems Protection Act (AB 1788) into law today, placing greater restrictions — with limited exceptions — on the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides to protect the state’s native wildlife.

The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), requires state regulators to reduce the threats to nontarget wildlife before the restrictions on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides can be lifted.

“Anticoagulants are wiping out the very wildlife that help control rodents naturally. There is a groundswell of support for this bill, which takes a giant step to reduce secondary poisoning,” said Lisa Owens Viani, director of Raptors Are The Solution, a project of Earth Island Institute.

“We can protect public health without threatening California’s wildlife,” said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We applaud Governor Newsom and Assemblymember Bloom for their leadership in protecting California’s mountain lions, bobcats, and kit foxes.”

Rodents that consume these long-lasting poisons are in turn consumed by other wildlife, resulting in secondary poisoning and contamination of the food chain. Developed in the 1970s, second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides have higher potency than earlier compounds. A single dose has a half-life of more than 100 days in a rat’s liver.

“These ‘one-feeding-kills’ poisons are devastating California’s wild animals, including some of the state’s most beloved species like mountain lions,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “California has taken a critical step towards safeguarding these animals from unnecessary suffering and death.”

Despite a 2014 ban on consumer sales, rodenticides continue to be heavily used by commercial operators. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s 2018 analysis of 11 wildlife studies determined anticoagulant rodenticides are poisoning a wide range of animals, including mountain lions, bobcats, hawks, and endangered wildlife such as Pacific fishers, spotted owls, and San Joaquin kit foxes.

There are many safer alternatives to anticoagulant rodenticides. Exclusion and sanitation are 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 also important steps to reduce the presence of rodents. When physical exclusion is not possible, there are dozens of safer rodent control options, including providing owl boxes in rural areas to encourage natural predation, and using traps that don’t involve these highly toxic chemicals.

AB 1788 was cosponsored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, and Raptors Are The Solution. The bill was also supported by Earth Island’s Project Coyote.