WAN Talks With CLAW’s Tony Tucci & Alison Simard About Their Vital Efforts To Protect LA’s Wildlife

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Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW), have been quietly tackling some relatively unknown or misunderstood issues that have far-reaching and often life-or-death consequences for wildlife.

WAN had the opportunity to speak with CLAW co-founders and co-directors, Tony Tucci and Alison Simard, about the non-profit’s three-tier objective which includes advocacy, conservation and educating the public about the importance of protecting the precious wildlife throughout Los Angeles and the habitats that they call home.

Among the advocacy programs, CLAW is most concerned with, is one that involves rats, poison and their combined threat to all animals.

“There is a movement with understanding the holistic nature of the way we eat and the relationships between how we eat, the climate and the earth,” Simard told WAN. “But, there is still a disconnect about the way we live in our homes and the way we interact with open space and wildlife.”

For instance, noted Simard, veganism and reducetarian are not only about farm animals, they are also about being a part of our larger ecosystem.

“We may eat vegan meals in our homes,” explained Simard, “but putting out rodenticides can compromise the safety of other animals.”

The now poisoned rodents become an even greater threat as other animals and a wide range of wildlife, such as coyotes and mountain lions may feed on them, resulting in secondary poisoning and contamination of the food chain.

A tragic example of this occurred last month when P-47, the notorious mountain lion studied by researchers since he was 4-weeks-old, was found deceased in the central Santa Monica Mountains; most-likely as a result of rat poisoning. Testing on his liver reportedly determined that P-47 was exposed to six different anticoagulant rodenticide compounds.

Sadly, as noted by Tucci and Simard, besides the rare cases like P-47 that the public knows about, “there are a lot of other innocent and anonymous animals who are suffering and dying after succumbing to poison.”

There are safer and non-lethal options, Tucci shared, suggesting the use of old-fashioned capture and release traps as an alternative to poison.

Fortunately, Assemblymember Richard Bloom authored the California Ecosystems Protection Act (AB 1788), a bill aimed at banning second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) except for agricultural use or by special permit. AB 1788 also prohibits less potent, but still dangerous first generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) on state-owned lands. If passed, California would become the first state to ban these products.

CLAW supports AB 1788 and was among those instrumental in the bill’s passage this week out of the California Assembly. Sponsored by a coalition of animal welfare groups and Animal Legal Defense Fund, AB 1788 now moves to the California Senate for consideration.

Another one of CLAW’s current advocacy programs involves an equally important task to protect and create wildlife corridors. As per Tucci, the City of Los Angeles is currently working on legislation targeted at the space between the 405 and the 101 freeways.

“CLAW, not only requests that people contribute to their efforts, they request that people support by starting in their own backyards; whether it be removing fencing, keeping pathways open for wildlife, or using non-lethal traps for rodents,” Tucci told WAN before heading out to deliver one of CLAW’s Barn Owl Nesting Boxes to a neighbor interested in trying that as an alternative to poison. As per CLAW, Barn Owls solely eat rodents and can consume up to 10,000 rats a year.

An informative door-hanger is also then placed on homes surrounding where the new Barn Owl Nesting Box is placed, alerting neighbors that alternatives to poison exist and encouraging them to participate as well.

More information about CLAW and ways the public can donate and help continue its important advocacy, conservation and education efforts, are available HERE!

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