Have you been trying to fight rodents on your own? If so, you may have noticed some changes in what you can buy over the counter. The EPA recently launched several new rules to reduce the risk to non-target organisms from rodenticides. Their main concerns were dangers to children, pets, and wildlife from homeowner misapplication, naturally.
A check on Medscape for the most current data about rodenticide poisonings presents a shocking number of incidents. In 2009, the AAPCC reported a total of 13,922 incidents of rodenticide exposure to US poison control centers. Of these, 97% of these were of the second generation anticoagulants as mentioned above. The outcome of these exposures was generally benign, however 11 of the exposures resulted in major illness, and one death occurred. Approximately 85% of the rodenticide exposures occurred in children younger than 6 years, thus you can definitely see why these new regulations are warranted.
We could not find any of the reports on wildlife exposure, but the EPA specifically mentioned that there were some poisonings involving protected species. In particular, the San Joaquin kit fox and Northern spotted owl were listed in addition to the Bald eagle, which is protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Act.
Ultimately, these are good and necessary regulations as they should not affect people’s ability to control rodents at all. They will simply force them to do it correctly, using an integrated approach. Such an approach should include exclusion (most important), traps, rodenticide (only outside in tamper proof containers), and habitat modification (removal of bird feeder, heavy foliage, compost piles, etc). If you don’t think bird feeders attract unwanted critters, look at this photo.