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Regulating Rodenticides

Several weeks after the approval of a resolution discouraging the use and sale of rodenticides, the HumCo Board of Supervisors has been updated on the state’s proposal to restrict them and ban retail sales.

The status of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation’s effort to limit the availability of rodenticides was reported by Jeff Dolf, the county’s agricultural commissioner, at the July 23 supervisors meeting.

The state is proposing to regulate products that contain the four active ingredients found in commonly-sold second generation rodenticides. That category includes highly toxic anti-coagulants that linger in body tissues, potentially harming predators that eat poisoned rodents.

Dolf said the state released its regulatory plan the previous week and a public comment period on it ends Sept. 3. Second generation rodenticides are being targeted for restriction because they’re “responsible for most of the contamination and the poisoning deaths of wildlife,” he continued.

His office would regulate rodenticides as restricted materials if the state’s plan is approved. Dolf told supervisors that under that scenario, possession and use of the rodenticides would require certification, effecting “oversight from our agency on the use of these materials.”

The rodenticides are mostly accessed at stores now but the new regulatory scenario would remove them from the retail market. “It wouldn’t entirely eliminate the problem but it would go a long ways toward reducing the misuse of these pesticides,” said Dolf.

He added, “We know what we’re talking about — we’re talking about illegal use by marijuana growers.”

What Dolf described as the “off-label” use of rodenticides in marijuana grows has been identified as a threat to a variety of wildlife. Those who use the poisons responsibly will continue to be able to do so, but will have to either hire a specialist to apply them or do it themselves after being certified.

The latter option is available to agricultural producers who would be permitted to use restricted materials through Dolf’s office. That process would require “site-specific information” and application review, he said.

“It would give us an opportunity to do a pre-site inspection and look at where these things are going to be used,” he continued.

With the added supervision of his office, use of the rodenticides in livestock operations will be allowed for the first time,” said Dolf.

Supervisor Mark Lovelace pointed out that marijuana growers won’t be able to use rodenticides legally because marijuana cultivation doesn’t count as an agricultural use under Department of Pesticide Regulation standards.

Dolf confirmed that and said, “If they were to try and represent themselves as producing a legitimate agricultural commodity, we don’t have to accept them on their word.” He reiterated that with the restricted materials category, pre-site inspections can be required.

“Through that level of oversight we will hopefully catch anybody who might be trying to improperly acquire, through our permitting process, these rodenticides,” said Dolf.

Asked what would be done about rodenticides bought out of state and used in California, Dolf said his office will be authorized to impose fines if it discovers unregulated possession and use.

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