Victory! California Passes Critical Bill To Expand Ban On Toxic Rat Poisons To Help Save Wildlife

Governor Gavin Newsom of California signed a crucial bill into law on Friday to improve protections from toxic rat poisons, which are harmful and deadly to children, pets, and wildlife.

The California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2023 (AB1322), will place a moratorium on the first-generation anticoagulant rodenticide diphacinone, a toxic rat poison still on the market today. The legislation expands on an existing moratorium passed in 2020 targeting second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Despite the 2020 legislation, wildlife continues to be exposed to harmful rodenticides and suffers from illnesses and death due to unintended poisoning.

“We really needed these protections to ease the needless suffering of pumas, foxes, and owls,” said Tiffany Yap, D.Env./Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rat poison indiscriminately harms animals up and down the food chain, making them more susceptible to disease and causing internal bleeding and death. It’s heartening to know that California will take the necessary steps toward ending this torture.”

A.B. 1322, which is sponsored by the Center and Raptors Are The Solution, contains exemptions for agriculture, water infrastructure, biotech, and emergency pest infestations. It offers safeguards from the most toxic rat poisons until state regulators develop stronger restrictions for their use.

“This is a sensible moratorium to address a pervasive and preventable problem,” said Lisa Owens Viani, director of Raptors Are The Solution. “Building on existing legislation might not sound groundbreaking but it will pull the most toxic poisons off the market and encourage more humane ways to control the rodent population. This is the least we can do to protect our pets, family members, and the wildlife we hold dear.”

Some of California’s most iconic wildlife are victims of toxic rat poisons. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has documented unintended poisonings in at least 38 different species in California, including the imperiled San Joaquin kit fox, northern spotted owl, and California condor. P-22, the Southern California mountain lion who made headlines for establishing turf in Griffith Park, had long suffered from rodenticide poisoning before he sadly died last year. Earlier this month state regulators decided to formally reevaluate the use of toxic diphacinone because of the substantial increase in wildlife exposure.

Anticoagulant rodenticides also pose a serious risk to people. More than 3,000 cases of human poisonings were reported in 2021 by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, including at least 2,300 involving children.

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