The food chain of rodenticide
Mice peer out from a loaf of bread.
Alright, weak-stomached listeners, we've got a story for you now about rats. Well, actually about rodenticide, the chemical products people use to kill rats. Some of them are poised to come off the shelves since the chemicals can affect other wildlife.
Many rodenticides act as anticoagulants, killing pests by making them bleed internally. They're great at killing rats, but they're also killing animals that eat rats.
Stella McMillen, a scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, says lots of animals eat rodents: coyotes, foxes, birds of prey — and the chemicals are making it to the top of the food chain.
Scientists worry the compounds may be making predators more prone to disease or may be hurting reproduction. The most toxic are the second-generation anticoagulants, one of which is brodifacoum.
The products are at the center of a long and messy fight between the company that owns the product and the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA's been trying to restrict second-generation anticoagulants to professional users. All companies but one have complied. Reckitt Benckiser has about a dozen products that would be canceled, and it's been fighting to keep them in homeowners' hands. That fight's been going for more than five years.
Reckitt did not respond to requests for comment for this story. Its appeal to the EPA could take years to decide. In the meantime, it's still on shelves.