A Facebook user shared a photo of an owl found dead in Oak Bay on Aug. 23 – the third owl known to have died in the region since November 2019 – and advocates suspect rat poison is to blame. (Photo submitted by Fred Haynes)

Oak Bay join Saanich in municipal ban of rat poison

Ban on commercial rat poisons implemented due to owl deaths

Oak Bay council has joined Saanich in banning the municipal use of anticoagulant rat poisons.

Awareness of the secondary poisoning process of bioaccumulation has grown in recent years with the discovery and necropsies of dead barred owls in Saanich and the Lower Mainland. A dead owl was found in Oak Bay as recently as August and rodenticides are suspected as the cause of death.

As a result, Oak Bay has joined Saanich and North Vancouver in the banning the municipal use of anticoagulant rodenticides.

READ MORE: Saanich bans municipal rodenticide use after owl deaths

READ ALSO: Third dead owl found in Greater Victoria, Saanich mayor suspects rat poisoning

Poisons “build up in rodent carcasses to levels many times the minimum lethal doses,” thus “exposing rodent-eating predators to immense amounts of poison,” noted the Oak Bay staff report to council.

This ban is on the anticoagulants that are actually only available to licensed commercial pest control companies, noted Mayor Kevin Murdoch. The ruling also does not limit the sale of other rat poisons from retail outlets such as hardware stores (although there are no hardware stores in Oak Bay).

“All we have control over is whether we use it in our facilities, for our own contractors,” Murdoch said, noting Oak Bay has only a few facilities and municipal rat control is limited compared to what happens with the general population.

However, it signals an awareness for the residents of Oak Bay that rat poisons are part of a food chain that can harm hawks, owls and eagles.

READ ALSO: Saanich councillors scurry to ban rat poisons municipal properties

“It’s the more powerful rat poisons that are out there, but all of them should be considered,” Murdoch said. “I’m not an expert, but our awareness of the local food chain has grown.”

Perhaps more importantly, Oak Bay will send a letter to the province asking for a review of laws around the sale and use of rat poisons.

“We don’t have the expertise, or the ability to know if there is a misuse of these [products] as a daily pest control” Murdoch said.


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