By Kath Rogers
Did you know that there is poison in your local park? The City of San Diego uses Diphacinone poison to control squirrels, gophers, and other wildlife in three Ocean Beach parks: Dusty Rhodes, Bill Cleator and Robb Field. The Animal Protection & Rescue League (APRL) has launched a campaign to end the use of poison in public parks for the following reasons:
Poison is unsafe. Diphacinone, like other rodenticides, is fatal if swallowed, inhaled, or even touched. These poisons are lethal to both dogs and cats if directly ingested. The Poison Control Center linked rodenticides to over 11,000 poisoning cases in 2009.
Poison is bad for the environment. Birds and other mammals are also at risk. Drastic reductions to small mammal populations disrupt the food chain, leaving those higher up the chain to starve. Birds of prey like eagles, owls, and falcons have been shown to hemorrhage and die after eating poisoned animals. Poison is also a potential contaminant to groundwater and native plant life.
Poison is inhumane. After consuming a lethal dose of poison, animals experience labored breathing, muscular weakness, fluid in the lungs, and an increased heartbeat. They suffer also from internal hemorrhaging and external bleeding. These symptoms can last for up to 5 days, until death.
There are many humane options. The most simple one? Don’t feed the squirrels. Squirrels and gophers reproduce rapidly when they have heightened cholesterol brought on by an overabundance of food. Preventative measures like sound deterrents, non-toxic spray deterrents, and underground fencing are all good options. As seasonal breeding species, gophers and squirrels are also good candidates for contraceptives, which may be dispensed in the place of poison.
Please ask the City of San Diego to stop poisoning wildlife. To voice your opinion, please write to Stacey Lomedico, City of San Diego Park and Recreation Director, either by email (SLomedico@sandiego.gov), fax (619-525-8220) or snail mail at 202 C Street – MS37C, San Diego CA 92101. Your letter can be short and sweet – make sure to include your full name, address, and a short statement about why you are opposed to poison in public parks.
Kath Rogers is the Programs Director of the Animal Protection & Rescue League.