Poison in OB Parks!

by on October 14, 2011 · 9 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

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.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kath Rogers October 14, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thanks for helping to spread the word! Email me if you’d like to volunteer in the OB Parks to help implement humane, non-toxic alternatives! :)

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avatar Jonathan Wadley October 14, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Let’s find a better way to control the populations. There’s no need to make animals suffer and expose our pets to danger when there alternatives available.

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avatar Alex October 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Diphacinone & other rodenticides like it are extremely dangerous & pose a huge threat to our wildlife and children. The city of San Diego should definitely cut down on their use and look into more humane options. Thanks for bringing this to light!

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avatar Louisa Golden October 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Done. Here’s a copy of my letter. Simple enough, everyone.

It has come to my attention that the San Diego Parks Department applies Diphacinone in some city parks. This practice is dangerous, harmful to the environment and unnecessary. There is risk to children, dogs, cats, birds and fish. The chemical causes bleeding into the muscles of the rodents before eventually causing death. As this is a slow and painful process, use of Diphacinone is inhumane. Since there are other control methods available, including public education about feeding rodents, under ground fencing and application of birth control agents, please stop applying rat poisons to our parks.

Thank you for your consideration.

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avatar imominous October 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Why doesn’t San Diego have a petition website like change.org?

As it is, the city council doesn’t really have a perspective on what citizens thing about issues like this. It’s ridiculous to poison the last remnants of wild San Diego as annoying pests, and it’s morally wrong.

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avatar Paola Potts October 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Thank you so much for addressing this problem. I just sent an email to Stacey Lomedico, as well. I will be talking to my homeowners association in Escondido in November regarding this problem as I have seen rabbits and birds dead on our grounds. I will also be addressing the health risk to the gardeners who apply poison to our grounds such as herbicides, rodenticides and insecticides. I wonder how many gardeners are subjected to illnesses caused by these poisons.

I agree that it would be a great idea to create a petition such as those created on change.org .

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avatar Louisa Golden October 20, 2011 at 8:44 am

Just got my response from Ms. Lomedico. I have to say, I’m unsurprised and unimpressed. BTW, I believe that the low concentration she mentions in her message means that the rodents have to consume a lot of the poison over a long period of time and that death is slow. Anyway, here’s the email exchange:

Ms. Golden,
Thank you for your e-mail and I have noted your concern about our use of pesticides in Robb Field and Dusty Rhoades. Y

Yes, it is true that in some of our parks it is necessary to use pesticides for the control of rodents, and other others pests. In the case of Robb Field and Dusty Rhoades we have a infestation of Gophers which has impacted the safety of the playing fields at these parks. With that it is necessary to use a pesticide. For the record, our chemical is NOT on the CA Restricted Materials List and is NOT a concentration of Diphacinone which is a 3% concentrate. Our current use is only .005% concentrate.

We have continued to commit to using the least invasive chemical/other solutions when controlling rodents in City of San Diego parks.

Stacey LoMedico
City of San Diego Park and Recreation Director
202 C Street – MS37C, San Diego CA 92101
619.236-6643/Fax 619.525.8220

From: Louisa Golden [mailto:louisa4@cox.net]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2011 1:52 PM
To: LoMedico, Stacey
Subject: Use of poisons in San Diego Parks

Dear Ms. Lomedico:

It has come to my attention that the San Diego Parks Department applies Diphacinone in some city parks. This practice is dangerous, harmful to the environment and unnecessary. There is risk to children, dogs, cats, birds and fish. The chemical causes bleeding into the muscles of the rodents before eventually causing death. As this is a slow and painful process, use of Diphacinone is inhumane. Since there are other control methods available, including public education about feeding rodents, under ground fencing and application of birth control agents, please stop applying rat poisons to our parks.

Thank you for your consideration.

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avatar Paola Potts October 20, 2011 at 10:33 am

I received the same response from Ms. Lomedico . In my reply to Ms. Lomedico I will add the following:

Toxic chemicals placed in our environment do not dissipate into the unknown. We are mammals, any poison that is harmful to other mammals, will be harmful to us, as well. Toxic chemicals will recycle into our waters, air and soil. As we expect the oil companies and natural gas companies to be responsible of their practices, we also
must act responsibly in our communities. We must remind ourselves that we are mammals, part of nature and not invincible. I would never want to take my children or pets to a park where poison has been applied. If this practice continues, I believe that it would be very responsible to place signs on such parks in order to give people a choice whether or not attend such parks. Would you place such signs on these parks for the public benefit?

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avatar JTH May 10, 2013 at 1:55 pm

You know what’s REALLY dangerous? Stepping in a goddam gopher hole as you run toward goal, first base, left field, the end zone, etc. and paying for the privilege. Equally dangerous are fascistic loons who put PESTS ahead of humans.

Is you dog on a leash at Robb Field? Good! It should be so that it doesn’t get into the poison. If not on leash and it nibbles on gopher kibble, then you’re an irresponsible dog owner.

Is your cat wandering Robb Field? WTF? Birds? I’ve never seen a bird go down a gopher hole to chow down on gopher poison.

Live in Escondido? Mind your own damn business…this is a SD park.

Kill the damned gophers and squirrels and let God sort them out so that us paying USERS of Robb Field can enjoy our activities! Robb is an active sports park…not a green belt to walk your dog. Get your heads on straight, people.

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avatar MM May 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

Gopher holes are the least of your worries. It would behoove you to look up information about Diphacinone toxicity to HUMANS before you decide to play sports in parks that use such chemical.

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