The Thousand Oaks City Council has approved a resolution urging businesses and residents not to sell or use a type of rodent poison blamed for harming wildlife.
The resolution, passed April 14, discourages the use of anticoagulant rodenticides to kill rats, gophers, ground squirrels and other rodents. Rodents that consume the lethal bait may be eaten by children, pets or wild animals, which can then become sick or die. The city does not have the legal authority to enact an outright ban on rodenticides.
The council also directed city staff not to use the poison unless there is an extreme threat to public safety. The city stopped using anticoagulant rodenticides in the maintenance of city facilities and landscaping a year ago.
“We need a better way to control the rodent population,” Mayor Al Adam said during last week’s City Council meeting. “Virtually all the (apex) predators in the Santa Monica Mountains have rodenticides in them—coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions. It’s taking a toll. To me, wildlife is an asset to be protected. The protection of the wildlife trumps the convenience of these anticoagulants.”
The council also approved the development of an outreach and education campaign to inform the public about the harmful effects of the poison and to offer alternative methods of rodent control. Closing trashcan lids, keeping pet food inside and sealing buildings are some of the ways to prevent rodent infestations.
Before the vote, several people asked the council to approve the resolution and outreach campaign.
T.O. resident Carol Smith emphasized the importance of educating the public about the poison’s effect on wildlife.
“I do believe they would be horrified to learn that they’ve inadvertently poisoned a barn owl, for example, that they enjoy seeing flying around on the trails, or a hawk, or a bobcat,” she said. “They need to know there are common-sense alternatives that are safe and effective.”
But not everyone was in favor of the resolution.
Ray Sobrino, owner of Conejo Termite and Pest Control, said that anticoagulant rodenticides are a very good bait that helps reduce the local rat population.
“We are having a rat epidemic in Thousand Oaks,” he said. “Rats are a very difficult pest to control.”
Kevin Wilson, the city’s landscape supervisor, said the city has been using snap traps and Fumitoxin, a fumigant that can be applied inside a burrow by a licensed operator, to control rodents.
Restaurants that place bait stations containing anticoagulant rodenticides outside their establishments can instead use snap or electric traps, Wilson said.