Los Angeles Daily News
January 17, 2006


City officials consider curbs on anti-rodent chemicals

By Kerry Cavanaugh

Hoping to protect the few remaining mountain lions that roam the [Los
Angeles, California] region's hillsides, officials are considering
banning the city's use of rodent poisons blamed in at least two
larger-animal deaths, plus the countless coyotes and smaller animals
they eat.

The proposal by Councilman Greig Smith would prohibit city departments
from using four anticoagulant poisons at golf courses, parks and
facilities within two miles of mountain regions.

The poisons, known as rodenticides, prevent blood clotting and slowly
kill mice, rats, and gophers by causing them to bleed to death

But the anticoagulants have been implicated in the deaths of mountain
lions, foxes, bobcats and eagles that eat the smaller, poisoned

"The whole idea that these poisons that were supposed to take care of
a rodent population are potentially moving up the food chain is a
scary thing," said Nicole Bernson, senior policy adviser with Smith's

"It's about preserving species that are indigenous to these areas."

The chemicals of concern -- brodifacoum, bromadiolone, diphacinone and
difethialone -- have been in use for more than two decades.

In late 2004, wildlife ecologist Seth Riley found two of the four
adult mountain lions he was tracking in the Santa Monica Mountains and
Simi Hills died of internal bleeding, probably after eating coyotes or
other critters that had eaten poisoned rodents.

He has also found anticoagulants in dead coyotes and bobcats.

"We're finding a lot of this stuff in the wildlife and we're finding
it all the way up to mountain lions, and it's definitely affecting
them," Riley said. "From a wildlife perspective, the less of this
stuff that is out there, the better."

Riley and pesticide experts believe the anticoagulants originate with
rat traps used by homeowners and public agencies. The chemicals are
found in some rodenticides sold at local home improvement stores.

City officials said they should be able to comply with Smith's
request, which will be discussed today at the Council's Environment
and Waste Management Committee.

Teresa Proscewicz, principal forester with the city Recreation and
Parks Department, said workers use only one product with the problem
anticoagulants, and it's primarily for indoor rodent control. The
department could switch to a new product for the facilities near the
mountains with little problem.

"There will be some impact but we can accommodate," Proscewicz said.

Likewise, the General Services Department, which oversees the city's
two pest control contracts, would ask those contractors to stop using
anticoagulants in the mountain areas.

Ventura County officials also have attempted to curtail the use of
anticoagulants by county agencies. Supervisor Linda Parks will seek a
complete phaseout of the products within six months.

Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, tried unsuccessfully last
year to change state law and allow counties to ban the sale of
anticoagulant poisons, but she is working to develop new rules aimed
at keeping anticoagulants out of the food chain.

The state could limit the rodenticides to indoor use only, so the
poisoned critters are less likely to be eaten by wildlife, or require
a professional license to purchase the chemicals to ensure they are
used safely.

Karen Cotton with the Mountain Lion Foundation said her group supports
efforts to limit the use of anticoagulants.

"It's really a cruel way to die. We try to tell people to read the
label. If it has one of the four products on the list, move on to the
next product. There's plenty of choices out there."

Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746