Rodenticides: An Unseen Threat to Our Local Wildlife
By Tommy McCarthy, Environmental Educator
Most people with mice in their house seek to get rid of them one way or another. There are many different options available to remove them - however, most of them are inhumane upon closer examination. Using rodenticides in particular is inhumane not just to the mice, but to creatures that might prey upon them. Specifically, second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs, are what can poison wildlife outside of the mice in your home. Common brands that contain this sort of poison include d-Con, Hot Shot, Generation, Talon, and Havoc. This type of rodenticide is the most insidious because it doesn’t immediately kill mice. Mice can live up to a few days while the poison is taking effect; and during this time the poisoned mouse becomes lethargic, confused and easy to catch. The afflicted mouse can also consume more of the poison during this time, ending up with a more lethal concentration of it in their system. An owl, hawk, fox, or bobcat, or even domestic cat might think they have found an easy meal for themselves or their young, and that is where the poisoning can have tragic unintended consequences.
Wildlife rehabilitation centers regularly share cases of animals that were poisoned by rodenticides, and it is not a pretty sight. A recent example was shared by Connecticut Wildlife Rehabilitator “A Place Called Hope” where a gorgeous adult Bald Eagle was poisoned in this way and ended up dying as a result. For people that work to help and rescue sick and injured wild animals, second hand poisoning from SGARs is not at all an uncommon thing to come across. In 2020, the Tufts Wildlife Clinic in Massachusetts dealt with 43 Red-Tailed Hawks which did not survive their illnesses or injuries, and found that every single one of them had chemicals from rodenticides in their system. A shocking statistic like that deserves to be shared - too many homeowners are unaware or have not considered what happens after a mouse consumes the poison that is meant to get rid of them.
Wildlife advocates in Connecticut have been seeking a ban on these types of poisons, though as of now, California is the only state that has enacted a ban on SGARs with exceptions for certain types of business facilities. Spreading awareness of these harmful chemicals and their impact on our beloved community of wildlife is ever important in a time where these types of poisonings seem to be at an all time high. There are other options to deal with rodents in your home that don’t involve harmful chemicals or cause suffering. Glue traps are also unusually cruel, as mice caught in them typically take days to die from starvation and exhaustion. In the case of a mild infestation in your home, the most humane way to get rid of mice is to use simple catch and release traps to relocate them. Most importantly, be sure to research and check what products you currently use and properly dispose of rodenticides that can harm our furry and feathered friends that would otherwise act as a natural form of rodent population control.