A Lifeline for Threatened and Endangered Species: Governor Newsom Signs Rodenticide Moratorium


by Debra Chase

By signing the California’s new rodenticide moratorium today, Governor Gavin Newsom has extended a lifeline to some of the state’s threatened and endangered species. The Mountain Lion Foundation celebrating the much-anticipated signing of Assembly Bill 1788, authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and supported by more than two dozen animal welfare and environmental protection organizations. The bill passed the Senate and the Assembly with strong votes (23-7 and 53-17, respectively) in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session. The new law prohibits most uses of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) statewide.

“Rodenticides are deadly for California’s mountain lions and other precious wildlife across the state,” said Governor Newsom. “My father was a naturalist and a strong advocate for the preservation of mountain lions, and I grew up loving these cats and caring about their well-being. He would be proud to know that California is taking action to protect mountain lion populations and other wildlife from the toxic effects of rodenticides.”

The law puts a moratorium on the use of first- and second-generation rodenticides while the Department of Pesticide Regulation works to deliver a definitive study of the poisons’ impacts on imperiled wildlife such as mountain lions. While final study results may take years to produce, supporters say the ban buys valuable time for California mountain lions currently under consideration for threatened species designation. The California Fish and Game Commission voted in April to advance the lions’ candidacy under the state’s Endangered Species Act, citing evidence that some of the state’s regional subpopulations face possible extinction from the impact of low genetic diversity and high human-caused mortality.

“After many years of studying the impacts of these chemicals, we know that these poisons pose a serious threat to our wildlife,” said Assemblymember Bloom. “Wildlife, especially our state’s Mountain Lions, can’t wait any longer. AB 1788 is a common sense measure that curbs the use of dangerous poisons until the re-evaluation can be completed. Today, I am grateful that hard pressed mountain lions and other animals will soon be a little safer.”

The bill will permit the use of certain poisons to protect public health and specifically names rodent infestations that pose a “significant risk” to human health. It also allows their use to protect water supplies; to eliminate non-native species that have invaded offshore islands; in food warehouses, slaughterhouses, canneries, breweries and wineries; and for certain other agricultural uses.

“By signing this bill, Governor Newsom has taken a bold step to prioritize wildlife health in the face of many growing pressures like climate change, wildfires, habitat fragmentation, and vehicle collisions, to name a few,” said Mountain Lion Foundation CEO, Debra Chase. “By pulling these four highly toxic rat poisons from the hands of pest control operators, California is giving sensitive species like mountain lions a bit of a fighting chance.”

Last month, National Parks Service researchers confirmed that a mountain lion and a bobcat each died in the Santa Monica Mountains as a direct result of rodenticide poisoning. Biologists have documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 26 out of 27 local mountain lions they have tested, including in a three-month-old kitten. “Every mountain lion is important to the gene pool. A mountain lion lost to rodenticides is tragic, avoidable, and meaningful,” Chase said, adding that the removal of second-generation anticoagulants from consumer use in 2014 failed to decrease the rate of wildlife poisoning, which pointed to the need to remove the poisons from commercial use as well.

For full text of the bill, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov

Founded in 1986, the Mountain Lion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure that America’s lion survives and flourishes in the wild.

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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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17 thoughts on “A Lifeline for Threatened and Endangered Species: Governor Newsom Signs Rodenticide Moratorium”

  1. Alan Miller

    This is long overdue.  Rat poison is a pretty awful death for whatever animal eats it, but the spread to unintended species is a horrific side-effect.  One highlighted by Davis school children a few years back was owls eating poisoned rats and then hemorrhaging out and dying, perhaps passing on to their young as well.

    It’s still widespread though.  Just talked to some people who were using it when I brought up my rat problem.  I asked where they got it (not to use, just curious) — it was ‘imported’ #winkwink#. I explained the owl-eating-rats thing but not sure they got the connection.  And I had three rats in my basement recently.  I tried to live trap them, and found them all dead days later.  I suspect a neighbor must have had poison out — no idea how that could have happened so quickly otherwise.

    Side note:  when I was on the board at the Planning and Conservation League (as a member organization), we used to tease the Mountain Lion Foundation about how easy fundraising was for them, with their doe-eyed animal photos always drawing sympathy and money; most of the other member organizations struggled with fundraising messages and campaigns.  Not disparaging them — I’ve been a member on and off and they were certainly an effective organization for their cause when I worked parallel with them.

        1. Alan Miller

          So just for the record, it is illegal to release a live-trapped animal anywhere except on your own property.

          Well aware.  The release suggestions by Alan C. Miller are for entertainment purposes only.

  2. John Hobbs

    “Back of the shovel it is…”

    A green method to be sure. I have three large cats, a vicious chihuahua and a terrier mix. We never have rodent problems.

    1. Alan Miller

      Dang, I remember watching this video decades ago.  I think this was from about the same era when indisputable “science” was telling us all that we were headed into a centuries-long ice-age due to environmental degradation from human-sourced pollutants.

  3. Alan Miller

    For the record, if Newsom’s State Rat Poison Police come knocking to ask who I know who has rat poison, I will look them in the eye with a steely gaze and say, “I am not a rat”.

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