A new billboard campaign targeting residents in Los Angeles County that debuted this week seeks to remind everyone that when you put out rat poison to eliminate rodents around your house, that poison can go on to kill other animals in the food chain.
The billboards have gone up near the corners of Corbin and Nordhoff in Northridge, and Sunset and Hobart in Los Feliz.
The group that sponsored the billboards, Cities Against Rat Poisons (C.A.R.P.), says they are hoping to give people a moment to think on how rat poisons can be an unintentional threat to pets and other local wildlife you aren't trying to kill. Their goal is to connect residents with poison-free alternatives for pest problems, as well as provide resources that can generate sustainable change in their communities.
“Rodenticides harm children, pets, and countless wild animals across the United States, but the problem of non-target poisoning is greatest in megacities like LA. Wild predators native to California such as cougars, bears, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, hawks, and owls are increasingly common victims of rodenticides because rat poisons move through the food chain,” says Kian Schulman, Founder and Director of Poison Free Malibu.
Raticides work by preventing clotting and causing rodents such as mice, rats, squirrels and gophers to expire from internal bleeding. It takes time for the poison to work, so the poisons can be passed up the food chain if a coyote, or mountain lion, or hawk, eats a rodent that has ingested the poison.
“LA cougars are candidates under the California Endangered Species Act, with the final vote to be decided by the Fish and Game Commission later this year, with rodent poisons identified as one of the key threats for this subpopulation,” says Korinna Domingo, Founder and Director of the Cougar Conservancy.
Rat poisons have killed several mountain lions, including internet-famous P-76, which was found in the Santa Susana Mountains, north of Highway 118 in Jan. 2020. Testing revealed the animal had died of coagulopathy. It was the third such mountain lion to have died thanks to rat poison. Researchers said in 2020 they had documented the presence of anticoagulant rodenticide compounds in 26 of 27 local mountain lions that were tested, including a 3-month-old kitten.
In September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that imposed a wide restriction on the use of certain types of highly potent rat poisons. AB 1788 barred the general use of so-called second-generation anticoagulant rodentcides, or SGAR, until they have been certified by the director of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
“Currently, there is only a temporary ban on some of the most harmful poisons, such as second generation anticoagulant rodenticides,” says Carolyn Trocino, Founder and Director of Poison Free Agoura. “But many other poison compounds are still commercially available and widely used such as first generation anticoagulants and neurotoxins.”