For too long poisons have been the default strategy to manage rodent problems – but thankfully both the risks of poisons and the effectiveness of alternatives are being increasingly recognized. Second-Generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), are banned for sale and use in residential (PDF) and non-essential commercial (PDF) settings in B.C. Exemptions are allowed for designated essential services and agricultural operators.
Rodenticide bait is made to smell like food to attract rodents, but its odour and flavour attracts many types of animals, putting them at risk of direct poisoning.
Rodent poisons or rodenticides come in different forms and fall into one of three categories: non-anticoagulants (e.g., corn cellulose, bromethalin, zinc phosphide), “First-Generation” anticoagulants (e.g., chlorophacinone, diphacinone, warfarin) or “Second-Generation” anticoagulants (e.g., brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone).
Anticoagulant rodenticides are the most commonly used in Canada. These rodenticides thin the blood and prevent it from clotting, causing internal bleeding that results in a slow and painful death. Poisoned rodents, and the animals who become poisoned by eating their carcasses, slowly bleed out over hours, days or even weeks.
Rodenticides are also dangerous for owls, eagles, raccoons, cougars and even cats and dogs. Every year, hundreds of domestic and wild animals receive emergency medical care to combat the deadly effects of secondary poisoning from eating rodents killed by rodenticide, and unknown numbers of others suffer painful deaths.
Gaps in the regulations
The policy change for SGARs is a big step forward for animal welfare – protecting wildlife from exposure to the most dangerous rodenticides, while promoting more effective and humane methods of pest control. Unfortunately, there are still a few gaps in these regulations.
First-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs) like warfarin, chlorophacinone, and diphacinone are still legal for use. These products are an older, slower-acting, and less potent product compared to SGARs – but rodents still suffer the same effects. Rodents can also develop resistance to these products. Certain non-anticoagulant rodenticides such as bromethalin, which are generally neurotoxins, are also still legal for use.
There is still a need to focus on prevention and using humane approaches to rodent management, and there are many ways to help.
How to help
You can help rodents and other wildlife by avoiding poisons and encouraging your friends, family and community to make changes as well.
- Rodent-proof your home by following our checklist (PDF)
- Hire an AnimalKind company, or ask your pest control company to follow AnimalKind standards (PDF)
- Learn more about humane pest control and coexisting with wildlife
- Share resources for municipal policy changes with your local council
- Share our resources for wildlife and rodent control operators
Even with the updated restrictions, local governments can still make permanent bylaw and policy changes to cover the gaps in the ban and protect their communities. The BC SPCA has put together resources for municipal policy changes that you can also share widely.
The BC SPCA is committed to supporting the transition from rodenticides to more humane pest control strategies, including accrediting AnimalKind companies, and is working with municipal staff to ensure there is a sustainable plan for their communities.
How your support made a difference:
- B.C. introduces permanent regulations to restrict the use of SGARs
- October: After a temporary 18-month Minister’s Order, the Provincial government announces permanent changes prohibiting all public and most commercial uses of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) in B.C., with limited exemptions. The temporary Minister’s Order from July 2021 is set to expire in January 2023, when the new regulations will take effect.
- May: Provincial government released the Integrated Pest Management Regulation (IPMR) Rodenticide Intentions Paper (PDF) for public comment. The proposal outlined draft regulatory and operational changes for the future use of rodenticides in B.C. – including use by private individuals, commercial and agricultural operators, municipalities and pest control users.
B.C. announces an 18-month ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), to allow government staff to research and review alternatives. BC SPCA experts are consulted as part of this scientific review.
Thousands of BC SPCA supporters make a pledge to say “no” to rodenticides in their municipality. As a result, more than 20 B.C. municipalities passed motions to ban all rodenticide use on all municipal-owned properties.
Did your municipality make the list?
- District of North Vancouver
- City of North Vancouver
- District of Saanich
- District of North Saanich
- City of Port Moody
- District of Oak Bay
- City of Richmond (1-year trial for 2021)
- District of Sooke
- City of Victoria
- District of West Vancouver
- City of Colwood
- City of New Westminster
- Town of View Royal
- City of Salmon Arm
- Town of Esquimalt
- Municipality of North Cowichan
- City of Coquitlam
- District of Central Saanich
- Town of Qualicum Beach
- City of Duncan
- Resort Municipality of Whistler
Plus, the following municipalities had already committed to ending the use of rodenticides on municipal property before 2020:
- District of Metchosin
- City of Nelson
- District of Highlands
Learn more about humane rodent control:
- Read more about humane pest control
- Find out how to rodent-proof your home
- Read our best practices for mice and rats (PDF)
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