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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Publisher’s Notebook

• Time to Act on Malibu Rodenticide Ban •


The City of Malibu will commemorate the forty-third anniversary of Earth Day with a month-long celebration through April. In addition to uttering platitudes such as “Every day is Earth Day in Malibu,” city officials should promote environmental awareness through implementation of meaningful policies that empower Malibuites as environmental stewards.
These officials can make an Earth Day statement that resonates soundly by moving speedily to address a request to take action on a resolution to limit use of rodenticides throughout the community.
A proposal is advocated by the Malibu Agricultural Society and others who urge the Malibu City Council to take a strong stand in opposition to the sale and purchase of rodenticides that are deemed an unreasonable risk to children and pets, and are decimating wildlife.
There is widespread citizen and scientific consensus that second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides spread toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is initiating regulatory action to cancel and remove from the market certain consumer-use mouse and rat poison bait products but it is fought at every turn by unlimited funding from the profit-reaping pesticide industry.
In California, a coalition of environmental and public health groups is urging the Department of Pesticide Regulation to reject registration renewals for brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum.
The DPR is analyzing the effects these rodenticides have on wildlife in partnership with the University of California at the request of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It is hoped that stringent measures to protect wildlife will be the end result.
Other California counties, cities and public agencies have put limits on the use of these rodenticides. Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Marin, Richmond and San Francisco are some of the entities that have passed resolutions opposing the use of these poisons.
Malibu includes and is surrounded by thousands of acres of parkland, as well as other natural areas that sustain diverse wildlife despite growing human encroachment. Shrinking habitat is exacerbated by the toll of these poisons working their way through the food chain.
The city should adopt a resolution urging local businesses to stop carrying these rodenticides. The local owners of Malibu Hardware have stepped up to the proverbial plate and other establishments have indicated   they plan to follow suit. The rest need some prodding. And residents must become educated on alternative pest management so they will stop purchasing rodenticides.
A Malibu City Council ban must also encompass curbs on the use of these rodenticides by the city itself, as well as efforts to pressure the local school district and other public agencies that are currently heavy chemical users to turn to pest management alternatives.
State Senator Fran Pavley has been a vocal critic of these chemicals. When she was in Malibu last Sunday, rodenticide ban advocates were able to speak briefly with her and they say she was supportive of their efforts.
These advocates have been trying to get the two city council members who could spearhead action to meet with them since Jan. 18. Their requests have received perfunctory postponements. When one looks at some of the other issues that have been steamrollered at City Hall in recent months, one has to wonder where the politicians’ environmental commitments are.
I regularly run a public service announcement reminding humans that Malibu’s wondrous species of raptors “prefer their meals poison free” because the humans may “call them rodents, [but the raptors] call them dinner.” Nature can stay in balance with our help. Malibuites need to take action on rodenticides if they want to consider themselves good environmental stewards and keep this Earth Day from becoming another hollow exercise in self-serving PR.

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