The Californian Senate recently passed a bill to ban the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). What did the bill actually say and what does it mean for rodenticide use in California? How will this development impact Australia?

The Californian Senate recently passed a bill to ban the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). While not a confirmed long term ban, it bans their use until the Department of Pesticide Regulation completes a re-evaluation of the SGARs brodifacoum, bromodiolone, difenacoum and difethialone. The bill also provides for a range of exceptions, including warehouses used for storage of food stuffs and on agricultural production sites. However it is likely long term bans or significant changes in regulations will result.

The ban is a result of SGARs causing secondary poisoning (whether through misuse or otherwise) in big cat predators and birds of prey which are adversely affected by eating rodents that have consumers SGARs. The bill states: “These rodenticides lead to direct mortality and chronic long-term health impacts for natural predators, non-target organisms, and endangered species and further steps are needed to reduce rodenticide exposure in non-target animals.”

California attempted to tackle the issue in 2014 when these rodenticides were named Restricted Materials. Since then only licensed applicators, not consumers, could buy and use them. It is noted in the bill that, “Despite the 2014 regulations… scientific research and state studies have found no significant reduction in the number of non-target wildlife with detectable levels of SGARs in their system.” With no measurable impact from the 2014 measures, the 2020 bill was seen as inevitable.

The issue of secondary poisoning with rodenticides is not a California only problem and rodenticides are also under review in Europe and Australia. An ongoing review is underway in the European Union under the Biocidal Products Directive, which has seen the loss of some rodenticides completely and the remaining rodenticides often being restricted in use pattern – in particular limiting their use in open areas and waste dumps – and limiting the maximum allowable concentration in products.

In Australia, a “Consultation on use patterns for anticoagulant products” is underway, looking at the use patterns of the key first and second generation anticoagulants. AEPMA provided a written submission as part of this consultation covering a range of topics, particularly focusing on the need to limit access of rodenticides to trained professionals. The consultation period ended on July 17 and  further comment from the APVMA is pending.

While the Californian decision does not have direct influence on other jurisdictions, with rodenticides a focus of regulatory authorities globally, further restrictions on their use is seen as inevitable.

Pest managers should always consider rodenticide use as part of an IPM program for rodent control and use lockable bait stations in accordance with the AEPMA Code of Best Practice for Rodent Management.

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