It’s good news for wildlife in Delta.
Last week, the province called for public feedback on proposed regulatory changes that will ban the widespread sale and use of second-generation rodenticides.
Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are more powerful than the previous generation of rodenticides and increase the risk of secondary poisoning of other animals who consume poisoned rodents.
In July 2021, the province introduced an 18-month ban on the sale and use of SGARs while government reviewed the science and developed recommendations for a policy.
The result is an intentions paper that outlined proposed permanent changes to the Integrated Pest Management Regulation.
According to East Ladner-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL), rodenticides may not have been intended for raptors and other predators, but it is not selective in what it kills.
Despite what many people are told, and what is written on labels, no poison is safe to use, OWL warned.
“When rodents eat the poison bait, death can take several days and before they die, they are free to roam. During this time they become weakened from internal bleeding, which makes them easier prey for predators and in turn poisons them. Many studies have been done and show that a wide variety of species contain traces of rodenticides, not just hawks and owls. Foxes, bobcats, cougars, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and even pet cats and dogs can contain traces,” the bird of prey rescue organization explained on its website.
“Rats who have eaten poisoned bait do not stay within the bait boxes and die. They can end up dying in the walls of your house, your attic, or become a meal for a predator or scavenger, which in turn can poison them.”
Pesticide use in Delta and elsewhere is regulated by federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
The provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change regulates pesticide users and vendors under the Integrated Pest Management Act.
Delta council had previously agreed it wouldn’t introduce a city bylaw prohibiting rat poison for private commercial or residential use.
A staff report explained local governments only had the authority to restrict pesticide use for cosmetic landscaping purposes on residential or municipal lands.
Since rodents are considered structural and not cosmetic pests, local governments could not enact pesticide bylaws that ban the use of any formulation of rodenticide.
The report also explained that local governments cannot enact bylaws that restrict pesticide use “for the management of pests that transmit human diseases or impact agriculture or forestry, on the residential areas of farms, to buildings or inside buildings, or on land used for agriculture, forestry, transportation, public utilities or pipelines unless the public utility or pipeline is vested in the municipality.”
In 2019, city council received a petition from a group of residents calling on Delta to seek an alternative way to deal with the rodent population, saying pesticides are too destructive to other animals.
The city then switched to using alternative methods of outdoor rodent control at several civic facilities as part of an ongoing trial.
Delta’s indoor rodent control is accomplished exclusively through mechanical trapping.
In a news release last week, the province noted the proposed changes would reduce unnecessary pesticide use by requiring individuals and businesses to focus on other methods of pest control, such as traps, less toxic rodenticide alternatives and removing food sources.
SGARs will be restricted for use by essential services such as hospitals, food production and supply, transportation or conservation projects, as well as select industrial operators only.
They will be restricted at the point of sale for all other users and require integrated pest management and record keeping.
As proposed in the intentions paper, the regulatory changes are expected to come into effect on Jan. 20, 2023.
The province also notes that will align with the end of the temporary ban.
However, if needed, the existing ban can be extended while the amendments are finalized.
Comments about the proposed changes are welcome until midnight on June 19, 2022.
For more information, check https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/legislation-consultation/consultation.