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State restricts rodenticide sales to protect wildlife

A California mountain lion.
CaliforniaDFG/ Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)
A California mountain lion.

California homeowners with rat or mouse problems will soon be unable to purchase powerful rodenticides to control their infestations. 

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation received authorization this week to restrict sales of products containing certain anticoagulant rodenticides to permitted users, like exterminators. The decision is intended to protect wildlife that may be impacted by feeding on poisoned animals. Some anticoagulants persist for hundreds of days and have been found in top predators such as mountain lions.

"In California, we like to be extra protective of our wildlife and of our people when it comes to pesticides, so it’s not uncommon for us to do things that are a bit more protective than other states," said Charlotte Fadipe, a spokeswoman for the department. 

The restrictions will limit sales of products containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum, or difethialone. Brodifacoum is the active ingredient in several lines of d-CON products. 

The move anticipates regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been trying to limit so-called second generation anticoagulants for more than five years. That decision has been appealed by Reckitt Benckiser, the company that owns d-CON. Reckitt Benckiser did not respond to requests for comment on the new California regulation, which will go into effect on July 1, 2014. 

Second generation anticoagulant rodenticides have been linked to widespread deaths in coyotes, and some scientists believe it may contribute to mange in bobcats. The chemicals' effects on mountain lions are not well known at this time, but National Parks Service scientists attribute some puma deaths to the chemicals. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Charlotte Fadipe's name. We regret the error.