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Victory for child safety, birds and other wildlife

By Gary Bogue
Wednesday, March 14th, 2007 at 7:15 am in Pesticide.

EPA to put limits on toxic rat poisons

According to an American Bird Conservancy news tipsheet dated March 13:

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a proposed mitigation plan for rat poisons in the Federal Register that should greatly reduce accidental poisonings of kids, birds and other wildlife. This is an important victory that ABC has sought for many years following the deaths of thousands of birds of prey, including great horned owls, golden eagles, and bald eagles and up to 15,000 poisonings of children each year.

“EPA will restrict the use of three rodenticides targeted by ABC — brodifacoum, bromodialone, and difethialone — to certified pesticide applicators. These three chemicals have the greatest potential for poisoning wild birds and scavenging mammals that eat poisoned rodents. In addition, all over-the-counter sales of other rodenticides will now have to be in tamper-resistant bait stations. The new regulations will limit the indiscriminate use of these highly toxic chemicals, and the tamper-resistant bait stations will also help prevent accidental child poisonings.

“EPA will be accepting public comments until May 18, followed by a review of comments, and then a final rule. The federal register notice is available at EPA’s Web site, www.epa.gov — docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2006-0955.

“For more information, contact Michael Fry, ABC’s Pesticides and Birds Program Director, mfry@abcbirds.org.”

While it’s wonderful that the EPA is finally getting around to restricting these pesticides, it always amazes me how long it sometimes takes them to do things like this. Especially when “up to” 15,000 children are poisoned annually. That’s totally unacceptable.

When I was Curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, Calif., back in 1967-1978, while caring for and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wild animals, we regularly treated red-tailed hawks that were suffering from secondary poisoning after foraging on the carcasses of ground squirrels that had been killed by rodent poisons. Some of these birds were saved by our creative and quick-thinking veterinarians, but most of the raptors died.

Finally, almost 30 years later, it looks like a governmental agency may finally do something to (hopefully) keep these beautiful raptors, and lots of other predators and wild scavengers from dying.

Cross your fingers and dwell on that thought.

American Bird Conservancy works to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. For more information see www.abcbirds.org.

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