SACRAMENT, California— The California Assembly approved a law by a vote of 57 to 12 that expands the protection of children, pets and wildlife from toxic rat poisons. Spearheaded by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), the California Ecosystem Protection Act of 2023, or Assembly Bill 1322, now awaits Senate passage.
“We know that the current ban on rodenticides does not offer adequate protection because unintentional poisoning still harms our communities and wildlife,” Friedman said. “I’m proud to be working alongside lawmakers who understand the importance of getting these dangerous poisons off the market, and I’m confident our Senate colleagues will agree.”
AB 1322 expands the existing moratorium on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides to include diphacinone, a first-generation anticoagulant rodenticide. The proposed legislation will increase safeguards on the most toxic rat poisons until state regulators develop stricter restrictions on their use.
“Anyone who has seen the suffering of mountain lions or spotted owls from rodenticide poisoning knows how heartbreaking this is,” said JP Rose, Urban Wildlands policy director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Both people and wild animals are at risk, so placing restrictions on the deadliest rat poisons is the least we can do for our family members and the wildlife we cherish.”
The legislation, sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity and Raptors Are The Solution, also protects against accidental poisoning of people. In 2021, anticoagulant rodenticides were involved in more than 3,000 cases of human poisoning, including at least 2,300 involving children, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Despite the existing moratorium, rodenticides continue to harm or kill California wildlife at an alarming rate. More than half of the wild animals tested in the state have been exposed to rodenticides. In a study of the Santa Monica Mountains, 39 of 40 cougars tested positive for rodenticide.
Anticoagulant rodenticides are meant to control the rodent population, but rodents that are poisoned end up being eaten by other wildlife, causing secondary poisoning that further damages the food chain.
The vote on AB 1322 comes after the Department of Pesticide Regulation announced May 19 that it would re-evaluate the use of diphacinone following a California Court of Appeals decision that the agency violated the law by failing to consider the cumulative effects of the chemical on wildlife.
“The situation is extremely dire for bobcats, eagles, hawks and many other species that make California so unique,” said Lisa Owens Viani, director of Raptors Are The Solution. “We need a common sense solution now, before it’s too late for endangered wildlife already facing threats from overdevelopment and a warming climate.”
Less toxic rodenticides, fertility control, and different types of traps are safer alternatives and effective ways to address rodent infestations. For more information, visit SafeRodentControl.org and raptorsarethesolution.org.