B.C. permanently bans use of rat poison

The province of B.C. is banning the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARS). (AFP/Getty Images - image credit)
The province of B.C. is banning the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARS). (AFP/Getty Images - image credit)

The province of B.C. has decided to make a temporary ban on the use of rat poison permanent.

Last July, the government imposed an 18-month ban on the use of rodenticides over concerns the poison is inadvertently killing owls, among other wildlife.

The permanent regulatory changes announced Friday will ban the widespread sale and use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), which the province says risk the secondary poisoning of animals who consume poisoned rodents.

The province spent the last 15 months conducting a review of SGARS and their impact by speaking with technical experts and holding a public consultation which received almost 1,600 responses. It outlined proposed regulatory amendments in an intentions paper.

The permanent ban will come into effect on Jan. 21, 2023 to align with the end of the temporary ban.

The ban applies to all sale and use of SGARs by members of the public, and most commercial and industrial operations in B.C., except for those services considered "essential" like hospitals and food production.

Essential services using SGARS will have to hire a licensed pest-control company, be licensed, have a site-specific integrated pest-management plan and record the use of the poison.

According to the government, the ban will reduce pesticide use by requiring individuals and businesses to resort to other methods of pest control, such as traps, less toxic rat poisons, and removing food sources.

Wildlife impacts

Rat poison has been widely criticized for how it moves through the food chain after it's ingested by a rat. Trace amounts are found in local wildlife and can be harmful to predators like owls.

A 2009 study on 164 owls in Western Canada found that 70 per cent had residues of at least one rodenticide in their livers. Researchers found that nearly half of those owls had multiple rodenticides in their system.

Rat poison has also been found in higher-order predators like weasels and coyotes, as well as scavenger species like birds and squirrels.

Opponents say the use of rat poison contradicts Canada's guidelines for hazardous materials.

The B.C. SPCA urges people to rodent-proof their homes instead of relying on rat poison.