Rodent poisons allowed on B.C. farms during temporary ban

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British Columbia has temporarily banned a stronger class of rodent poisons pending a review of their effects on non-target wildlife, but farm uses will be exempt.

The province on July 21 announced an 18-month prohibition on sales and use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs).

The second-generation products are “more powerful” than the previous generation and increase the risk of secondary poisoning of owls and other animals that eat poisoned rodents, the province said.

Uses that support “agricultural production and food safety” will be exempt, the province said, as will uses by food processing and storage facilities, grocery stores and restaurants as well as hospitals and other health services.

Farmers and ag operators, specifically, will need to show “proof of qualifying agricultural status” and follow integrated pest management principles including “prevention and full consideration of alternatives” in their use of SGARs.

Consideration of alternatives, the province said, means treating the use of pesticides as a “last resort when other measures are not effective.”

SGARs include active ingredients such as brodifacoum, bromadiolone and difethialone, while first-generation anticoagulants include warfarin, chlorophacinone and diphacinone.

All anticoagulant rodenticides were subject to more strict label requirements effective at the end of 2012, following a 2010 re-evaluation by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

According to Health Canada, the SGAR products “tend to be more acutely toxic than the first-generation” and generally provide a lethal dose after a single feeding, but don’t cause death for about five to 10 days, so animals continue to feed on them in the meantime.

First-generation products generally must be ingested for several days to provide a lethal dose, as they’re less acutely toxic and more rapidly metabolized and/or excreted.

“We share the concerns of many British Columbians that rodenticide use is harming, and too often killing, birds, pets and other wildlife,” Environment Minister George Heyman said July 21 in a release.

“That is why we are taking action to reduce risks, conduct a review and step up our efforts to reduce unnecessary pesticide use, rather than safer alternatives.”

— Glacier FarmMedia Network

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