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SLO County wildlife harmed by rodenticides

Winter Bird Festival kicks off in Morro Bay
Posted at 4:01 PM, Jul 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-03 19:01:26-04

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding the public how to properly manage rodent infestation without harming other wildlife.

In April, the CDFW's Wildlife Investigation Lab (WIL) found the cause of death of an owl in San Luis Obispo County to be fatal poisoning by anticoagulant rodenticides, the chemical agents used for rodent control.

This was the thirteenth bird of prey death by anticoagulant rodenticides investigated by the WIL since August 2019.

Anticoagulant rodenticides work by preventing blood clotting in animals that consume it, resulting in fatal bleeding.

In a four-year study conducted by WIL biologists investigating the causes of bird of prey death across California, more than 80 percent of the hundreds of birds studied had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides. About 1/4 of the deaths were fatal poisoning directly caused by anticoagulants.

The CDFW says these types of chemical rodent baits have injured and killed non-target pets and wild animals including raccoons, bobcats, foxes, skunks and coyotes.

The state of California and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have implemented restrictions and bans on the consumer use of rodenticide products but some are still allowed by the use of licensed exterminators.

The CDFW says the best way to protect wildlife is to use non-chemical means of rodent control and take the following actions:

  • Mow grass to no more than two inches
  • Remove potential rodent food sources
  • Keep tree branches and vegetation at least a foot away from the home and roof
  • Seal holes that could allow rodents to gain entry to the home
  • Store pet food, chicken feed and bird feeders away
  • Remove popular rodent hiding spots like wood piles, debris, construction waste, vegetation and ivy
  • Pick up fallen fruit ASAP
  • Tightly seal garbage cans
  • Seal water leaks and remove standing water