Environment & Science

LA City parks no longer use most toxic rat poisons

Mountain lion P-22 is trapped, sedated and treated for mange during a capture in Griffith Park. The puma also had traces of anticoagulant rat poison in his blood.
Mountain lion P-22 is trapped, sedated and treated for mange during a capture in Griffith Park. The puma also had traces of anticoagulant rat poison in his blood.
National Park Service via Flickr

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City of Los Angeles parks are no longer using powerful rodent poisons as part of their pest-management strategy. Officials with the Department of Recreation and Parks told city council members at a committee meeting on Monday that the department had phased out second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide use months prior.

“We concluded that phasing out the use of all second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides at all of our facilities would be the appropriate thing to do without compromising our main objective, which is to maintain clean and healthy and safe parks for the patrons to enjoy,” said Laura Bauernfeind, principle ground maintenance supervisor for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Anticoagulant rodenticides have been found to travel up the food chain and collect in the livers of top predators, including mountain lions, bobcats and raptors.

In March, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation banned consumer sales of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Since July, the products have no longer been available for sale to homeowners, though licensed exterminators are still able to use the chemicals.

Some cities, including Malibu and Calabasas, have passed resolutions declaring that no anticoagulant rodenticides of any kind would be used in their city-owned parks and facilities. 

Those measures go beyond those taken by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Bauernfeind said that the department would continue to use less-potent first-generation anticoagulants, but only when required.

“Any kind of pesticide is always a measure of last resort - only when other methods are either inappropriate or unsuccessful in gaining the type of control that we need,” Bauernfeind said.

Wildlife advocates said that they welcomed the department’s decision but hoped that it would also decide not to use first-generation chemicals. Alison Simard, chair of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife (CLAW) pointed out that it was those chemicals found in the blood of the famed Griffith Park mountain lion known as P-22.

“We do applaud them for phasing out second-generations,” Simard said. “We’re hoping that they can use some ingenuity to get rid of first generation anticoagulant rodenticides. The reality is that first generation rodenticide is still an anticoagulant rodenticide. That means that wildlife can still get sick.”