When homeowners set out poisons aimed at one animal, it often results in the death of many other animals. Rodenticides are a prime example of collateral damage.
Veterinary hospitals are far too familiar with treating rodenticide toxicities. Many pets will either ingest the bait directly thinking it is something tasty or just a toy, or catch and eat a rodent who has already ingested some of the bait. Small children are also at great risk of poisonings. According to Poison Control, 10,000 children are treated every year in the US for rodenticide ingestion.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, "Harm to wildlife from rodenticides is widespread: Poisonings have been documented in at least 25 wild species in California, including mountain lions, hawks and endangered San Joaquin kit foxes and northern spotted owls." That is only one state, however, and even in California the worst of the poisons are still available for commercial use.
Though it is aimed at killing mice, rats and other rodents, the poison can work its way up the food chain, causing the grisly deaths of hawks, owls, eagles, bobcats, coyotes, pet dogs and cats. The predators consume the poison when they consume the rodents that ingested poisoned baits.
Many rodenticides prevent blood from clotting by inhibiting vitamin K, while others attack the central nervous system. Neither type of rodenticide leads to a timely or peaceful death. Creatures that ingest these baits often die slowly over time during which any predator may catch and consume the rodent resulting in it’s own demise. The poison can stay in tissues of the affected animal for a long time after death which means many scavengers are then exposed as well. Many pet dogs will often find a dead animal and decide to have a taste, unwittingly ingesting poison.
Mammals, raptors and other animals are necessary for natural rodent control. Destroying them in an attempt to decrease the rodent population will actually result in a much larger rodent population in the long run. Protecting our wildlife requires coming up with smarter, safer solutions to handle rodent infestations.
If rodents are a serious problem in your house, snap traps and live traps are safe effective ways of dealing with them that will not result in potential poisoning of our beloved pets or wildlife.