2017-03-17 / Front Page

Council votes to do away with rodenticides

Poison kills predators at top of food chain
By Stephanie Sumell


POISON—The City Council adopted a resolution last week urging businesses to discontinue using and selling rodenticides, which inadvertently work their way up the food chain. 
ACORN FILE PHOTO POISON—The City Council adopted a resolution last week urging businesses to discontinue using and selling rodenticides, which inadvertently work their way up the food chain. ACORN FILE PHOTO In recent years, the cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills have formally opposed the purchase, sale and use of anticoagulant rodenticides, poisons known to endanger wildlife and pets.

The City of Camarillo is doing the same.

The Camarillo City Council adopted a resolution last week urging businesses to discontinue using and selling the poison, which inadvertently works its way up the food chain, killing larger animals including bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions.

With the help of local environmental groups and wildlife activists, the city will educate businesses and consumers on the dangers of using anticoagulant rodenticides and suggest alternative tactics to get rid of rodents.


PAINFUL DEATH—A coyote sick with mange. Animals with the skin disease have often been poisoned by rodenticides found in the small animals they consume. 
Courtesy of CA Wildlife Center PAINFUL DEATH—A coyote sick with mange. Animals with the skin disease have often been poisoned by rodenticides found in the small animals they consume. Courtesy of CA Wildlife Center “There’s resources available out there to help explain to the public alternatives that are available that can be just as effective,” Assistant City Manager Tom Fox said during a presentation before the City Council. “Some of the neighboring communities that have already taken a position to not use anticoagulant rodenticides have put brochures together, and we would rely on a lot of information that is already out there . . . to help us with the outreach to our community.”

Anticoagulant rodenticides interfere with blood clotting and cause excessive bleeding.

After eating the poison, the rodent does not die immediately, and the poison can remain in its carcass at toxic levels for months.

As a result, larger animals that eat rats and mice can die a slow and painful death as the toxins build up in their bodies over time.

The poison makes them weak and unable to fend off mange, a skin disease caused by mites.

Studies by the National Park Service on wildlife in the Santa Monica Mountains have shown that between 80 and 90 percent of bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions in the area have tested positive for anticoagulant rodenticides.

Fox said there are other ways to address rodent problems, some as simple as keeping garbage-can lids securely shut.

Other options include using kill traps and faster-acting poisons that do not contain anticoagulants. People can also hire pest control companies that use alternative measures to do the job.

After the presentation, several speakers voiced their support for the resolution.

“We are eradicating wildlife and the predators of the pests we want to control,” Chris Bouckaert told the council, adding that plants such as euphorbia and lavender can serve as a natural deterrent for gophers. “We want to leave a legacy for our grandchildren and a world where the sun shines, where the birds sing and the animals roam in the forest and the parks.”

Bouckaert is the founder of the animal ministry at the Center for Spiritual Living in Simi Valley.

Joel Schulman of Poison Free Malibu thanked the city for reviewing the issue and said his organization would be glad to help the city in any way it can.

Cathy Schoonmaker of the National Park Service also offered to help. The wildlife biologist said the park service has a Nature Neighbor Project Web page that offers tips on living safely near wildlife, including alternatives to using poisons to control pests.

“We found 89 percent, almost 90 percent of bobcats that we tested, tested positive for these poisons,” she said. “This is happening throughout the world and the country, so we want to make sure that we get this information out.”

Camarillo resident Bill Taber and his wife, Jeannette da Silva Curiel, also addressed the council. The couple can hear owls, which are also affected by secondhand anticoagulant poisoning, from their home near Calleguas Creek.

Taber suggested the city encourage the use of man-made nests called owl boxes because owls can provide a great deal of natural rodent control.

He said there is an active group of people in Camarillo who care about protecting birds and mammals: the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology on Calle San Pablo.

“Thank you for your attention to this,” he said. “I think the time has come to make the matter known widely to the community.”

Camarillo resident Merrill Berge said the ecosystem is interwoven, noting that when bigger animals like coyotes die due to anticoagulants, there are fewer to reduce the rodent population.

She offered to lend her time to get the word out about poisons, saying she plans to get in touch with the Camarillo Springs Homeowners Association and the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District. She also suggested the city host Earth Day events at the Camarillo Public Library.

“I am pledged to make this an important effort here because we are so close to the mountains, (and) we’re so fortunate to have so much wildlife right here in our own community.”

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