Squamish Hires Humane Solutions to Help Reduce Human Wildlife Conflicts

The global pest control industry is worth over $20 billion dollars annually and growing at an aggressive rate. 20% of that revenue is reported to be generated from rodent control, and the vast majority of rodent control revenue is generated from recurring rodenticide contracts. At no point since the inception of modern rodenticides has an increased use and expense of this product resulted in a meaningful reduction in rodent conflicts, infrastructure damage, resource loss, or cost-to-control. Yet, the global pest control comglomerates have been allowed to peddle this service as the only option for large scale management. 

The reality is that without a meaningful effort to mitigate the resources (food and shelter) which are perpetuating the rodent population, the problem will continue indefinitely. Governments all the way down to homeowners are offered poison as a first an only response to their rodent infesations; more often than not, the customer continues to have a problem worth “controlling”, and the company has secured recurring, resession proof income.

This would only be simply a tragic financial reality if these ineffective and expensive poison treatments didn’t also cause so much needless suffering. But no, globally we dump money into these programs and succeed in nothing more than lining corporate profits and harming our local ecosystems.–=

The Ineffective & Inhumane Industry Standard

There is a misconception that ‘humane’ means there is no death involved. As a pest and wildlife management company, we understand that animals must be controlled. However, it is our mission and responsibility to ensure that they are controlled in the most humane way possible. 

While rodents are widely seen as vermin to be destroyed, it is our conviction that they are intelligent creatures and sentient beings that deserve to have a humane death.

Traditionally, pest management companies operate on regular poison contracts, glue boards, or electric traps. 

Using glue boards, the animal spends its last days desperately trying to escape – pulling its own skin off in the process. And you can only imagine how electric traps cause suffering.

First generation anti-coagulant rodenticide was the first type of rodent poison developed which over time, animals have built a resistance to. As a result higher potency second generation anticoagulant rodenticide was produced which results in extensive damage to the animal – interfering with blood clotting, causing organ rupture and death from hemorrhaging. It also poses a much higher risk of secondary poisoning in predators. 

Poison is not a quick and easy death. The animals must ingest a lethal amount and suffer from hemorrhaging and organ rupture before they finally die. In this state, the animal wants to go into a cold dark place to suffer in peace. If the pain doesn’t lead to their demise, dehydration or starvation will. 

This sad fact explains why we often find dead rats within walls. Traditional pest management companies sell this as a ‘feature’ to property owners, who are led to believe that the poisoned animals are leaving their property when the truth is, in so much pain, they go inside access points within structures to die and decompose.

There are millions of dollars going into rodent control and a staggering amount of that budget goes toward poison applications. The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t actually address the root problem – instead endlessly poisoning the never-ending flow of rodents in and out these structures. This leads to another problem, as birds of prey and predators end up ingesting rodenticide.

Millions of dollars are spent, yet nothing is fixed, rats keep multiplying, people continue to live in rodent infested buildings, and other animals experience collateral damage.

While we have relationships with The Raptors <PLEASE BACKLINK> and OWL Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society <PLEASE BACKLINK>, we do not donate dead rodents to feed their birds. We cannot guarantee that the rats we have collected don’t have traces of rodenticide in their system and we will not risk causing further damage.

BC’s 18 Month Ban on SGARS (Second Generation Rodenticides)

Our team have been working on raising awareness on the rodenticide issue since the company was founded in 2016. Determined to find a new answer to rodent control that isn’t inhumane, costly and ineffective, our founder Joe Abercrombie invented a smart trap – a self-resetting rat trap that uses technology to sense and instantly kill rodents.

In early 2020 we worked with Defend Them All Foundation, who produced an article as part of their campaign against the use of rodenticides. In this article, the organization discuss the current regulatory framework in Canada, how the use of second generation rodenticides present risks to nature, citizens and future generations, and recommendations for reevaluation.

In March 2020, Humane Solutions’ Founder Joe Abercrombie and COO Emma Harris flew to Vancouver Island to speak to Deanna Pfeifer, founder of Rodenticide Free BC and the mayor of Sannich. During our conversations, we discussed the work we do at Humane Solutions and all the problems that come with the use of rodenticide poisons.

We learned that Deanna’s activism began when she discovered her favourite owl dead. Upon taking the owl in for a necropsy, the report came back ruling that the death was due to rodenticide.

Of more than 800 raptors (falcons, hawks, owls and vultures) received by the OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society each year, between 74-100 are suspected to have secondary poisoning with no recovery. It remains unclear how many raptor deaths caused by rodenticides go unreported. 

The obvious inhumane implications of using SGARs aside – if more raptors die, there will be more and more rats. We cannot poison our way out of this situation – doing so will only continue to destroy the ecosystem.

Our initial conversation with Deanna led to a huge movement that gained traction with the support of many voices in agreement that rodenticides are extremely inhumane and harmful to ecosystems.

Our team at Humane Solutions is so proud to be a part of this movement, leading to a provincial 18 month ban of second generation rodenticides as enacted by BC’s Ministry of Environment. 

This was a controversial move met with polarizing opinions from both industry and public, and not always respected by industry professionals. The profit driven pest control industry found a loophole in the ban and continue to use 1st generation rodenticide. There is minimal enforcement agencies nor fines – it’s up to the company and the client to ensure that the ban is upheld.

Humane Solutions has been called upon to regularly consult with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries; BC Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy on Integrated Pest Management, Vancouver Humane Society,  California Coastal Commission, several municipalities across the Lower Mainland and the Rodenticide Science Review on the knowledge we hold from professional experience about rodenticides and alternatives to rodent control & management.

The Fight Continues

The problem we are experiencing is due to multinational corporations pushing an industry standard that is not just environmentally degrading but has proven useless when considering rodent problems on a macro scale.  

There are very few scenarios in human/rodent history where an infestation has been successfully controlled in the long term with rodenticides. Simply put, we have a multi-billion-dollar global problem that affects millions of people and countless other species, and we have yet to stop pouring billions down the drain in ineffective control methods.  

Whether you value efficiency, economics, ethics, or the environment, rodenticides have proven to miss the mark across the board.  

While the Ministry’s move was decisive and communicated clearly to all involved entities, the decision has been left to pest control companies and the public – their customers. There are no meaningful efforts to ensure the use of SGARs is removed and alternatives implemented. 

We continue to fight against the use of rodenticides, in favour of creating lasting solutions through structural fixes, new inventions and humane euthanasia when needed. We’re honoured to be part of this movement and are confident it will continue to grow. 

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