Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes is joining concerned residents in the fight to reduce the use of rat poison.
Two owls have died near Kings Park from suspected rodenticide toxicity since November 2019 and Saanich residents Robert Vanzella and Deanne Pfeifer are taking action – now with Haynes’ help.
Vanzella found a Barred Owl slumped at the bottom of its roosting tree near Kings Park on Nov. 29, 2019 and a necropsy report from the Ministry of Agriculture shows it had brodifacoum and bromadiolone – commercial-grade rat poisons – in its system.
A Great Horned Owl was alive when it was first spotted swaying near a construction site on Kings Road this month. Workers saw it fall to its death and reached out to Vanzella and his wife, Pfeifer, to collect it. A necropsy showed it had ingested brodifacoum, bromadiolone and difetialone rat poisons.
Pfeifer and Vanzella have reached out to a number of local authorities to share their concerns about the use of rodenticides in the area including the Saanich and Victoria mayors and council, the B.C. Senior Integrated Pest Management Officer and municipal health officers.
Haynes was quick to voice support for the cause, Pfeifer said.
“It’s a dismay” to see a second owl lost, Haynes told Black Press Media, adding that he teared up when he saw the Barred Owl after it died. He commended Pfeifer and Vanzella for their “compassion” and dedication to the issue.
On May 28, Haynes said he plans to meet with Sean Rolo, president of the Canadian Pest Management Association and Christopher Day, president of the Structural Pest Management Association of B.C. in the next week to discuss next steps when it comes to the pest control industry and protecting wildlife.
Council discussed pesticides while adopting proposed amendments to Saanich’s pesticide bylaw on May 25, he said, but the focus was not on rodenticides as they’re regulated at the provincial level. Rather, the amendments updated bylaw to address changes to Provincial legislation, create consistency among municipalities in the Capital Regional District and make the wording clearer. Changes included adding 22 pesticides to the list for general use and removing two others.
“Going on as we are is unacceptable,” Haynes said. “These products are legally available … but the question is ‘what can we do to reduce the impact on wildlife?’”
He’s supportive of Pfeifer and Vanzella’s advocacy for a reduction of rodenticide use, covering garbage bins, public education about risks and seeking alternative pest-control options.
Pfeifer calls Kings Park a “unique panhandle property” located near the border of Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay. She feels a coordinated approach to changing rodent control tactics in the region would be beneficial.