California Regulators Restrict Sale of Rat Poisons

California consumers won't be able to purchase some types of rat poisons after July 1 because state regulators have determined that the chemicals in them pose a danger to pets and wildlife.

Charlotte Fadipe, a Department of Pesticide Regulation spokeswoman, said Thursday that starting in July, only pest-control companies and trained professionals with state certifications will be able to purchase those types of poisons.

"It's not a ban," Fadipe said, "but what we're basically doing is taking it away from the hands of consumers and putting it in the hands of professionals."

The regulation -- which applies to all pesticide products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, or difethialone -- classifies the poisons as restricted materials. The substances, called second-generation anticoagulants, interfere with blood clotting, causing the rats and mice that ingest them to bleed excessively.

The problem with the poisons, which can only be used inside and around buildings, is that after the rodents eat them, other animals -- including family pets -- may then eat the rodents and also die.

Some animal species that have been adversely affected by the poisons are the barn owl, the bobcat, the coyote, the raccoon and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox.

A 2011 DPR report indicated nearly 75 percent of dead animals studied in nontarget species between 1995 and 2010 had residues of the anticoagulant rat poison in their systems.

"This is a practical sensible regulation that goes a long way to protecting our wildlife," said Brian Leahy, the Department of Pesticide Regulation's director. "Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides can contain some pretty powerful chemistry. Restricting the use of SGARs to only certified applicators will significantly reduce unintended exposures to nontarget wildlife."

The DPR said it is working to get the message out to retailers that the products must be pulled off retail shelves by July 1.

Messages seeking comment from representatives of pesticide manufacturers were not immediately returned.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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