USA -(Ammoland.com)- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is investigating the poisoning of two San Joaquin kit foxes found dead in Bakersfield last month.
Although the foxes were found ten miles apart, the cause of death was the same: exposure to high levels of the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, brodifacoum, which resulted in severe internal bleeding and hemorrhaging.
The carcasses were discovered by residents of Kern City and north Bakersfield who reported them to the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP), a local conservation group that monitors kit foxes in the city and greater Central Valley. ESRP has been working closely with residents in both areas, as this urban kit fox population has declined in recent years due to a fatal outbreak of sarcoptic mange.
San Joaquin kit foxes are only found in California and are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Despite the many obstacles kit foxes face in the wild, most notably due to habitat loss, they seem to be thriving in the Bakersfield area and have become beloved city residents. This urban population is increasingly more important to the survival of the species as natural habitats disappear.
However, city living is risky. Urban kit foxes are more likely to die from vehicle strikes, dog attacks, entombment, diseases transmitted by domestic pets or invasive wildlife, and poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides. Rodents are kit foxes’ primary food item, which makes them terribly vulnerable to poisons ingested by rodents. When they eat rodents that have been poisoned with these baits, they’re exposed to those rodenticides.
Due to their harmful impacts on non-target wildlife — including hawks, owls, bobcats and mountain lions — second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are now restricted in California.
Since July 2014, four of these chemicals can only be legally sold to and used by professional exterminators.
CDFW urges residents to help protect kit foxes by using alternate means of rodent control such as exclusion, sanitation and trapping, and to ask any pest control professionals they employ to do the same.
Rodenticides Can Harm Wildlife:
Throughout California, the use of poison baits to control rodents has injured and killed hundreds or thousands of wild animals and pets. Predatory and scavenging birds and mammals like owls, hawks, raccoons, bobcats, mountain lions, foxes, skunks and coyotes that eat dead or dying rodents that have consumed these baits will also be poisoned. Pets will also eat dead or dying rodents and unprotected bait.
The best way to control rodents and protect wildlife and pets is to use non-chemical means of rodent control, such as exclusion and sanitation, when possible. If rodenticides are used, it is important to protect both pets and wildlife by following the label directions of any rodent baits you purchase, and only purchasing those that are legal for the pest you are trying to control. Because of documented hazards to wildlife, pets and children, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has restricted public access to some of these materials in California. As of July 1, 2014, rodenticide products containing the active ingredients brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone and difenacoum are only to be used by licensed applicators (professional exterminators). Products containing these four chemicals should not be on any store shelves where consumers could buy them. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency additionally implemented a nationwide ban on consumer use of products that do not comply with safety requirements in January 2015.
CDFW has also seen an increase in the number of strychnine-related wildlife losses in recent years. Strychnine is only legally used to control pocket gophers and must be placed underground in gopher burrows. Strychnine should not be used to control mice, rats or ground squirrels. Any above-ground use of strychnine may lead to unintentional poisoning of wildlife and pets, and may lead to enforcement action by CDFW, the appropriate County Agricultural Commissioner, or both.
Protect your wild neighbors, pets and children from accidental poisoning. Choose non-chemical pest control methods. If you must use pesticides, do so very carefully and follow all label directions.
If you find a San Joaquin kit fox that appears to be impaired, please contact the CDFW or ESRP at (661) 835-7810.