D-Con Be Gone

D-Con Be Gone

California bans rat poisons that are killing the state's birds, but the fight isn't over. 

By Jane Braxton Little
Published: July-August 2014

Rats accomplished what common sense could not. Raptors Are The Solution, a San Francisco Bay Area-based network of nonprofit groups organized by Lisa Viani and including Audubon, scientists, and state and local governments, persuaded the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to ban over-the-counter sales of powerful anticoagulant rat poisons like d-CON. Every year the poisons, which deplete the body of vitamin K, a nutrient necessary for blood clotting, kill thousands of birds of prey that devour tainted rodents; kit foxes, wild pigs, and Pacific fishers have fallen to the poisons, too. It can take several days for victims to bleed to death.

The statewide restrictions will slash the number of poisons available over the counter to homeowners and provide a process for government agencies to respond more effectively to incidents of wildlife exposure, helping the very animals that naturally help curb rodent populations, says Stella McMillin, a wildlife investigator with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "This is huge," she says. "It addresses the biggest wildlife problem we have in relation to pesticides."

To achieve these groundbreaking limits, RATS pressured state agencies by papering subways with posters of dying Red-shouldered Hawks and Barn Owls and by promoting videos of stricken wildlife on social media. "If people know about the impacts, they will choose an alternative for rodent control," says Nancy Wenninger, Mt. Diablo Audubon conservation chair. Her Audubon chapter, along with 16 others and Audubon's California state office, helped with the statewide grassroots effort, from Facebook posts to letter-writing.

The restrictions, which take effect July 1, are a crucial first step. Still, legal challenges await. In fact, Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of d-CON and other rat poisons, has filed suit against the Department of Pesticide Regulation. For now, at least, the anticoagulants will stay off the shelves--and out of the food chain.

Magazine Category

Author Profile

Jane Braxton Little

Jane Braxton Little is a contributing editor for Audubon.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


I had rats in my house and

I had rats in my house and called a pesticide company. They put four rat bait boxes outside the house. I did not realise at the time that this would effect the predators who eat the rats. I still see a large amount of rats around the area. What is the answer?

There are lots of humane pest

There are lots of humane pest control methods, poisons are old fashioned and dangerous. Here's what a quick google search gave me for humane rat control: http://www.bird-x.com/rodent-control-pages-192.php

A missing epilogue to this

A missing epilogue to this story is what are the alternates to poison in controlling a rat infestation. I'd love to put up an owl house in my yard but the entire city is full of people using poisons. So what do we do while we wait for the birds to come back?

My neighbor's 2year old

My neighbor's 2year old helper dog for her
disabled daughter was killed by rat poison.
He slipped out the front door one night
and went next door and ate it in the carport
of the empty house after it was closed up for the
summer. He died within hours an excruciating
death. It was so tragic.

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.