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Mouse and Rat Poison – What They’re Not Telling Us
Eek! It’s a mouse! Nasty little creature full of bacteria and disease. get in the car and go down to the local hardware. Shelves full of “death in a box” all with familiar labels: Hot Shot, d-Con, Generation, Rozol, etc. conveniently stack for easy selection. What the heck, just pick one. Home again, and read the instructions: “Keep out of reach of children and pets.” No problem, we’ll put the bait under that bottom shelf so it doesn’t hurt. There, that mouse will soon be toast!
Most people can relate to this scenario. Little do they know that the warning should also read “Keep away from all the things big and small, bright and beautiful,” because it really is death in a can. Manufacturers are not required to disclose exactly how deadly their toxic chemical concoction is.
What are Rodents?
Almost all rodents have teeth in common. That is, they have both upper and lower incisors that continue to grow. As you can imagine, in order to keep their teeth from growing, they have to constantly chew on something. Unfortunately, this usually means that the roots, fruits, seeds and stems of the plants fall victim to their dental needs. It can also mean expensive damage to your walls, floors and home electrical and vehicle wiring. There are some rodents that are an exception to the rule and only eat fish or insects.
In my neck of the woods rodents include deer mice, brown mice, voles, moles, possums, black and brown rats, gray, red and flying squirrels, nutmeg, wild mink, ferrets, beavers, muskrats, hogs and gophers . I’m sure there are others. I just haven’t seen them yet.
Why should we kill rodents?
If you have a vineyard, for example, gophers can mean a lot of money down the drain. Their burrowing upsets your root and soil system and they gnaw the stems of your vines causing the plants to die. Rats and mice can transmit infectious diseases, such as Hantavirus. They carry lice, fleas, mites, ticks and other tiny creatures on their skin and fur. As you can see, getting rid of mice and rats in our homes and farms is beneficial in many ways.
First Generation Rodent Poison
Also known as Rodenticides, they contain chemicals that specifically inhibit vitamin K, preventing the natural clotting of blood. Warfarin is an active ingredient used in rodent bait. If you’ve ever had surgery and had to take a blood thinner to prevent clots afterward, then you’ve probably ingested this chemical. When used to kill rodents, the animal’s blood becomes so thin that it cannot carry the necessary oxygen to the brain, nervous system and organs, and it dies.
First generation brews have a good kill rate. however it was thought that creatures might develop a tolerance to it. So the World Health Organization got involved and ordered the manufacture of something much more toxic. Imperial Chemical Industries of London obliged and developed the new “super rodenticide”, also known as second generation rodenticide.
Second-generation mouse and rat poisons kill much more slowly, but use the same strategy: vitamin K is inhibited to prevent blood clotting. The rodent will go back for seconds, thirds, fourths and so on. By the time the rodent actually dies, it will have ingested the lethal dose many times over. It then becomes a weapon of collateral destruction. There is nothing as tempting as a stumbling rat that is slow to get away. Any of their natural predators will also be poisoned after ingesting them. These include owls, hawks, vultures, eagles, raccoons, foxes. and yes, even the family dog or cat! Wild birds that feed on rodents and our pets are particularly vulnerable. but all animals die horrible deaths after ingesting second generation rodent killers.
Additionally, the rodent kill rate is high for the first 2 years or so of using second generation poisons. After this level of tolerance is reached quickly and the rodents multiply faster than ever before! There is no backup plan.
Birds of prey that eat the poisoned rodents or feed them to their young develop tumors, bleed from their skin, become too lethargic to hunt, and either die from the effects of the poison or starve to death. Our natural biological controls, namely owls, hawks and vultures, badgers, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats and skunks, among others, are being killed by the poison at an alarming rate. In fact, 79.1 percent of birds and mammals tested by Wildcarea rehabilitation facility in San Rafael, California; were positive for myocides (according Audubon MagazineJanuary-February 2013 issue.)
What are they not telling us?
Our precious children are being poisoned by these things. Keeping the bait out of their direct reach is no guarantee that children won’t come into contact with it. The rodents take so long to die that they roam the house for days while still following the bait with them on their paws, tails and fur. This material remains stored in the liver, so we cannot tell how far-reaching its effects will be on our future generations.
Vets will tell you about the high rate of pet poisoning they see from the use of these deadly chemicals. Our pets are members of our family. Losing them like that and knowing it could have been prevented is just unbearable. It’s a very sad lesson to learn.
In 2008, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) stated that: “Second-generation myocides posed an unreasonable risk to children, pets and wildlife.” It gave manufacturers 3 years to stop selling the deadliest rodent poison directly to households. The City of New York is firmly behind this order and agrees that the use of second-generation rodenticides as rodent control is unreasonably dangerous to people and wildlife. That’s a strong endorsement coming from a rodent-infested metropolitan area!
BUT, the EPA left a huge loophole that you could drive a train through: Bulk sales, such as those to farmers, and waterproof bait boxes used by exterminators were exempted from the stop-sale order. The result is that predators and scavengers alike are poisoned by those rodents that have eaten from exterminators’ “sealed bait boxes” or from bait created by farmers.
To date, 26 of the 29 manufacturers of second-generation mouse and rat baits have complied with the EPA mandate. The 3 who refused to stop producing these poisons are:
1. spectrum group, manufacturer of pet care products (ironically) as well “hot shot” mouse and rat baits with the active ingredient BRODIFACOUM, which is the most lethal to pets and wildlife.
2. Liphatech, producer of “Generation”, “Maki”, “Rozol” and ‘d-Con’ containing BRODIFACOUM.
They also make Lysol, Woolite and French’s Mustard!
3. Reckitt Benckiserwho tries to take it to court, while innocents continue to die.
How we can help stop natural rodent controls from killing and poisoning our children and pets:
· USE safe alternatives to poison baits, such as old-fashioned multi-purpose traps or disposable covered traps (so you don’t have to see or handle the dead creature), available at the same store as the toxic chemicals!
· Human pest traps– this is what I use. Add peanut butter as bait and transport the live rodent to a location at least a mile away to be released. You don’t want them to end up back in your house! Do toomake sure the release location is away from houses or farms. Be careful not to cause trouble for anyone else!
· Electronic rodents. These seem to have mixed results depending on where they are placed in conjunction with the actual rodent entry point. It usually takes more than one to cover the area in question. Quite often our attic is in the center of the mouse, especially in the fall and spring. To make sure the entire area receives the electronic shock wave that is the rodent, we need to install 6 devices. Using a surge protector with 6 outputs is convenient in this case.
· Make it a habit to read Labels. DO NOT BUY RODEN BAITS that contain any of these active ingredients:
“BRODIFACOUM”, which it is particularly harmful to pets and birds
If you see any of these second generation killers on store shelves, PLEASE RUN, DO NOT CROSS the store manager. Educate him/her about the dangers these indiscriminate killers pose to our children, pets and wildlife. We urge their immediate removal!
· Contact EPA and warn them to cancel the “second generation rodenticide general use registration”: Email: Wasem.Russell@epamail.epa.gov and refer to Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2011-0718
“RATS” support ( RaptorsAreTheSolution.org )
Owls and raptors are highly effective in reducing rodent populations without the use of toxic agents. Barn owls especially benefit from nest boxes and are not territorial. If there is plenty of food, there will be no fights – just a rodent feast!
Hungry Owl Project ( HungryOwl.org ) The volunteers of this organization build, distribute, install, monitor and clean owl nest boxes. They are located in California but will provide you with information on whether owl nest boxes would benefit your situation.
Be sure to pass this information on to anyone who may be considering using any rodenticide. You will save countless innocent lives and help restore natural balance.
Source: Audubon Magazine, January-February 2013 issue; Connie M Smith
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