How can rodent poison affect our wildlife?
Not only does rat poison have consequences on our wildlife, but it can also affect our children and pets. Treating rat infestation with poison will reduce their population but at the cost of other living things.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, tens of millions of households in the U.S. have cats or dogs. The risk of exposure to your pet of someone else’s is probable, as, like children, pets are also curious.
Poison does not just affect one species, but all other species dependent on that prey.
By using poisons and pesticides, they will affect wildlife food and the environment. It is known as a secondary poison, as the products that marketed to kill rodents threaten the lives of the wildlife that consume them. Indirectly poison travels up the food chain.
Researchers have been collecting evidence to prove that it is not only the rats that end up dead.
Studies conducted in California found that everything from Pacific fishers to bobcats to northern spotted owls is often victims of rodenticides, and the list goes on.
Anything that preys on a rodent could be at danger because poisons travel up the food chain and can remain in an animal’s body for years.
According to Kelle Kacmarcik, director of wildlife solutions and advocacy at WildCare, (a wildlife rehabilitation center in Marin County, California), if you have poisoned a rat, it may be possible that you are going to poisoned a hawk.
The above illustration proposes a simple food web for the Santa Monica Mountains. Though describing only a few of the potential relationships that exist between wildlife species, many wildlife species can be affected.
The most significant users of rodenticides are regular consumers who buy the poison at stores for home use and hired pest control applicators to treat their properties.
Poisons used to control small mammals, including gophers, ground squirrels, rabbits, and woodrats, could be toxic to any other vertebrate species (mammals, snakes, birds, fish, etc.) that eat them, either directly or indirectly.
In 2019 an amended bill was introduced in the California legislature, providing hope for some legislative action on the issue. Yet while the state figures out what to do, the poisons are traveling up the food chain, endangering more wildlife.
Poison and the risks of secondary poisoning is a massive problem for wildlife and the environment.
Wildlife has been dying from rodenticides for years. But what to do about it is still being debated.
I sincerely hope you will avoid the use of rodenticides after reading this article, so you can make a difference and protect our wildlife.