While the province temporarily banned the sale of rodenticides in July to protect owls and other wildlife from poisoning, one advocacy group said that’s not enough and is calling for a complete and permanent ban.
“We know the harms and we’ve known for decades. So, the government is pausing and looking at scientific research. We know there are safer methods available. Why are they not calling for a complete, permanent ban?” Deanna Pfeifer of Rodenticide Free B.C. said.
“It doesn’t need to continue. How many owls is it going to take?” she continued.
There are exemptions to the ban and it is through those loopholes that have organizations, like OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society, worried.
The center’s general manager, Rob Hope, said the number of owls dying since the ban hasn’t changed.
“We know it’s out there. We know it does happen. And the death isn’t usually that pretty. Basically, they bleed out internally,” he explained.
He said it’s concerning to see owls dying from something that’s so preventable and the numbers are likely higher.
“I have two big deep freezers full of dead birds right now. If we were to test all those owls, particularly for rodenticide, I’m sure 70-75 per cent of them would contain some sort of rodenticide within them,” Hope said.
He also said only a fraction of owls get tested, so it’s unknown how many actually die from rat poisoning.
Like Pfeifer, he supports the idea of using alternative methods.
“Until we know the full scope of what’s within these birds, we’ll never know. Unfortunately, some cause of death — for example, hit by a car, doesn’t mean that bird didn’t contain or was rodenticide poisoning which led to it being hit by a car,” Hope said.
The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change has stated in the past they do routine checks of farms, vendors and exempt users of the poison.
In the meantime, Pfeifer is working with Rodenticide Free B.C. and have conducted their own research.
They’re planning an improvised meeting Friday with the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change to present their findings and hope to enforce an all-out ban on rodenticides.