Southern California environment news and trends

Rat poison from illegal California marijuana grows threatens rare forest animals

Campaign Against Marijuana Planting Pot Garden Raid

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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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Outdoor marijuana fields growing concern in Santa Cruz County

Afghan Cannabis Farmers See Crop Prices Rise

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Typically when authorities are complaining about marijuana, it’s a legal issue. But in Santa Cruz County, outdoor marijuana grows are causing problems of a more unexpected kind. As reported in the San Jose Mercury News, the marked rise in outdoor weed grows over the last year is raising concerns of environmental degradation and increased potential for wildfires.

For Cal Fire officials, that rise can be measured in the number of new cases of unlawful timber operations. Where 2010 only saw approximately three new cases, last year that number spiked to 22 new incidents.

"They're creating a huge fire hazard in leaving those there," said Cal Fire Division Chief Rich Sampson in the Mercury News of the felled trees left behind. "Often, they're camping there. So the chance of fire is greatly increased."

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Three questions about pot on public lands, answered

Some questions about pot on public lands are NOT common. 

After the raid but before the story aired on the radio, my dad called me up. "Are you going to call it Pomeroy?" he asked. That's out family name for marijuana - Sheriff Pomeroy in San Mateo, California, apparently spoke to a Hi-Y club meeting my then 15-year old dad went to, and passed around a lit joint so that the boys would recognize the smell. My college friends called it Darrell, after Darrell Green, the devoutly Christian former Redskins cornerback (who, to be fair, never endorsed the product). Another friend's family calls it "back medicine." Anyone with anything as good should tweet us at @PacificSwell or hit us up in the comments with their pet name. 

But then again, some questions are common - and, for that matter, relevant. So - since they weren't the exact focus of my story, I'm answering the top three questions I've gotten from Angeleno and Facebook friends in the last few days. 

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