Don't Take the Bait (rodenticides)
What is the “Don’t Take the Bait” campaign?
The San Francisco Department of the Environment is asking City retailers and consumers to avoid buying or selling certain kinds of common rat and mouse baits, which the US Environmental Protection Agency has determined pose an “unreasonable risk” to children, pets, and the environment.
What is the problem with these rat and mouse baits?
- They are highly toxic to any mammals – including children and pets. The American Association of Poison Control Centers annually receives between 12,000 and 15,000 reports of children under the age of six being exposed to these types of products.
- When predators like hawks or owls eat a poisoned rat, the predator may be poisoned.
- Watch this video by Raptors Are The Solution, advocates for safer rodent management approaches. (SF Environment staff were among those interviewed).
- The US EPA determined that these products pose an “unreasonable risk” in 2008, after years of evaluation and scientific review. Under federal law, pesticides that pose an “unreasonable risk” should not be legal for sale. At that time, US EPA gave manufacturers three years to remove them from the market. The deadline for removal was June 4, 2011.
- The baits’ manufacturers have challenged the way the US EPA planned to cancel these products. The EPA must now follow a very lengthy procedure called a formal cancellation process. This could keep the products on the shelves for years.
What is City of San Francisco doing about it?
- San Francisco’s Department of the Environment has followed the issue closely for 8 years, submitting comment letters to the US EPA and other regulators. The City’s Integrated Pest Management Program severely restricted the use of these active ingredients on City properties in 2007.
- The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in November, 2011 (sponsored by Supervisor Malia Cohen) calling for a voluntary ban on these products.
- The Department sent letters to 130 local retailers asking them to voluntarily stop selling the products. Cooperating businesses will be issued a thank-you letter or poster to acknowledge that they care about their customers’ health.
What are other governments doing?
Resolutions similar to San Francisco's have been passed by Marin County, Berkeley, Richmond, Albany, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Belmont, San Anselmo, and Humboldt County, California. In addition, the Marin Municipal Water District, Contra Costa County, City of Santa Monica, and City of Boulder, CO are taking action on this issue.
What are local retailers doing?
What are safer, effective ways to control rats and mice?
- Keep areas clean and free of food and water. Seal food in glass or metal. Pests can chew through plastic and paper.
- Use snap-traps instead of baits whenever possible – a lot of them, and set at night.
- For Norway rats, place traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners, and where there are rat droppings.
- For roof rats, place traps in off-the-ground locations such as ledges,shelves, branches, fences, pipes, or overhead beams.
- In San Francisco, contact SF Department of Public Health, 415-252-3805, to report complaints of rodents or overgrown vegetation (which creates a habitat for rodents).
- Post San Francisco's "Don't Take the Bait" flyer
Tips for buildings
Tips for landscapes
- Don't leave pet food outside.
- Remove ivy, which are homes to rodents.
- Put a tarp under bird feeders. Compost or dispose of fallen seeds daily.
- Hire sustainable landscapers.
Which baits should be avoided?
Does this remove an essential tool for public health?
No. This issue was considered by the EPA in its mitigation decision. Similar baits will still be available to professional pest control operators, who are better trained in using the products carefully.
Where can I get more information?
- See US EPA website.