Southern California environment news and trends

Rat poison from illegal California marijuana grows threatens rare forest animals

Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Pot Garden Raid

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While the stereotypical image of marijuana farmers depicts them as Earth-friendly environmentalists, a proliferation of less scrupulous growers using rat poison to ward off pests on illegal farms may be responsible for killing scores of rare weasel-like mammals called fishers, which are already on the verge of protection under the Endangered Species Act.

As reported by the Summit County Voice, a new study by researchers at UC Davis, the Integral Ecology Research Center and other land agencies found that almost 80 percent of the fisher carcasses studied had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides. Brodifacoum, a second-generation rodenticide, was found in 96 percent of the dead animals. The researchers are looking at illegal public marijuana farms as the source for introducing the toxic chemicals to the remote, wooded areas where fishers dwell. The animals are often attracted by bacon and peanut butter “flavorizers” added for that very purpose.

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Court ruling restricts gold mining in the West

Rising Price of Gold Spurs Increases In Prospecting In California

David Paul Morris/Getty Images

As reported by the Associated Press, a new ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has tightened restrictions on gold mining in states across the West, including California.

The ruling, which passed by a margin of 7-4, states that the U.S. Forest Service must consult outside federal wildlife agencies before allowing any activities that could potentially threaten an endangered species, in this case salmon. The ruling was the result of a previous lawsuit submitted by the Karuk Tribe in Northern California opposing suction dredge mining in the Klamath River (which had been approved in 2004). The suit claimed that dredging could harm coho salmon, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Suction dredges are gas-powered vacuums that pump sand and gravel up from riverbeds. 

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