Woodland stream.

Big cats face danger, death from poisons

Products meant to kill rodents might spell death for wildlife
By Eric Leach
Staff Writer

Monday, March 21, 2005 - THOUSAND OAKS - Park officials in the Santa Monica Mountains fear that a number of mountain lions and bobcats may have died after eating rodents that had ingested rat poison, which some elected officials say should be banned in the area.

Charles Taylor, a spokesman for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said he would present findings today at a news conference showing that at least two mountain lions in the area died of complications from anticoagulant chemicals -- commonly found in rat poisons.

"Anticoagulants were found in their systems," Taylor said Monday. "This is a concern for us because we've found that anticoagulants are working their way into the wildlife."

Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Woodland Hills, has introduced legislation that would authorize any county in the state to prohibit the sale of rodent poisons that contain the anticoagulants used by homeowners and exterminators to kill rats, mice and gophers.

Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a member of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy's board of directors, is urging fellow supervisors to support Pavley's bill and wants county agencies to avoid using the pesticides on county facilities including parks and golf courses.

"It's shocking," said Parks, whose recommendations are before the Board of Supervisors on today's agenda. "While we are trying to get rid of the mice and rats near our homes, we are unintentionally getting rid of our mountain lions, bobcats and our raptors."

Parks said a number of bobcats also died from anticoagulants and that officials believe that about 80 percent of the bobcats in the Santa Monica mountains have anticoagulants in their systems.

The chemical and pest control industry has contacted Pavley's office, arguing that there is no effective alternative to these poisons.

Harvey Logan, executive vice president of the Pest Control Operators of California, said his association would oppose Pavley's bill unless it were amended to exclude his industry.

People must have a way of keeping down the rat population, and these anticoagulant poisons can be effective tools, if used properly, he said.

"Rats spread disease," he said. "The potential from disease is extremely high from an explosion of the rat population."

Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602 eric.leach@dailynews.com

If you go to The Ventura County Board of Supervisors, they will meet at 8:30 a.m. at 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura.



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