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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Proponents of Malibu Ban on Anticoagulant Rodenticides Get City’s Ear

• Coalition Seeks Formal Resolution that Could Help Spearhead Regional and National Campaign

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

A growing coalition of of citizens and organizations, spearheaded by the Malibu Agricultural Society, are seeking a City of Malibu resolution opposing the use of anticoagulant rodenticides that are increasingly impacting wildlife.
Malibu Mayor Lou La Monte, City Councilmember John Sibert and City Manager Jim Thorsen met for more than two hours with members of MAS; National Park Service biologist Seth Riley; veterinarian Duane Tom, director of animal care at the California Wildlife Center; attorney Frank Angel; and members of the recently formed activist organization TopangaWildlife.org to discuss the issue.
Anticoagulant rat poison causes the animal that ingests it to bleed to death internally. Research shows that animals that depend on rodents as a food source are increasingly becoming the victims of secondary poisoning.
According to Riley, nonfatal doses of the chemical can build up in an animal’s system, causing kidney failure and immune system problems that can include notoedric mange and frequently lead to a slow death.
“Animals that have ingested these rodenticides bleed out, they bleed to death internally,” Riley said. “[In the Santa Monica Mountains] 83 percent of the 130 coyotes studied tested positive for anticoagulants.”
 Riley stated that out of 300 bobcats during the 15-year study, 95 percent tested positive for anticoagulants. The rodenticide rates were similar for mountain lions: 91 percent of the 27 mountain lions in the study tested positive. There have been two recent mountain lion fatalities that are directly linked to secondary rodenticide poisoning.
“Mountain lions appear especially vulnerable,” Riley said.
He provided graphic photos of poison and mange victims.
Tom added that wildlife rescue organizations increasingly are  dealing with hawks and owls that exhibit symptoms of poisoning.
“The second generation rodenticides, bromethalin and cholecalciferol, are often labeled ‘safe’ but they have a longer half life and the secondary toxicity has cumulative properties,” Tom said. “There are no antidotes for second generation rodenticides. It’s a more dramatic death. It’s also much more toxic to children and pets.”
Connie Najah and Jenni Klemp of TopangaWildlife.org described encountering dead and dying animals in their community and how they resolved to do something about it. They said that Topanga children are gathering pledges and building owl boxes. They spread the message at the Topanga Earth Day celebration and have been reaching out to neighboring communities and working to get rodenticides off of store shelves and out of parks and public places.
The Malibu Agricultural Society has successfully approached several Malibu stores about removing rodenticides from sale.
“This is the new ‘Silent Spring,’ MAS Secretary Kian Schulman said, referring to Rachel Carson’s revolutionary book that raised awareness of the dangers of chemical poisoning of the environment.
“Rodenticide use is taking its toll throughout the ecosystem in proximity to the National Park. A ban proposed by the EPA is being fought by the chemical companies,” she said.
Schulman said that while the city cannot prevent the sale of the poisons—only the state has the authority to issue a ban, a Malibu anti-rodenticide resolution would lend vital support to the statewide effort to ban the substances.
“We’re asking the city to join other California cities and counties who say, ‘Yes, we care about children, pets and wildlife,’ and pass a resolution opposing the sale. Imagine a poison free Malibu,” she said.
“The resolution document will be an important catalyst for extending our campaign to the neighboring cities bordering the Santa Monica Mountains,” Schulman wrote in a letter to the city officials following the meeting.
“The wildlife carnage we are trying to limit goes beyond our own backyard necessitating a multiple city outreach. A precedent set by Malibu, as a green city, will be most helpful when these cities are approached to do the same.”
The City of Malibu has already adopted a no-poison strategy, so that is not an issue. Frank Angel, a local environmental attorney, has offered to write the resolution at no cost to the city.
Schulman added, “The day after our meeting, Thursday, April 25, we approached Malibu Ranch Market on Busch Drive on a tip that they had rodenticides for sale. I went there and spoke with Jack, the new owner of three months.
“On the shelves he had a case of the worst second-generation anticoagulants, a d-Con product that he had inherited from the previous owner. After I explained the issue to him, he immediately went to the shelves and pulled the case entirely. He said he hadn’t realized how much problems it causes. It was very helpful that I could tell him about our proposed resolution in this situation.”
She added, “City Manager Jim Thorsen was right on the mark with his observation that state action is ultimately essential. However, as Frank Angel pointed out, the City of Malibu is on the front lines of this issue due to our geographical situation where 85 percent of the city is open space and our location amidst the Santa Monica Mountains. Therefore it is totally appropriate for Malibu to be concerned and to provide input to the state.”
“We look forward to the resolution progressing to the consideration of the full council. Let us unite under an umbrella of common good for all life.”

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