By Chet Greason
A recent article in the Ontario Farmer newspaper had patrons storming Queen Street West farm supply business The Hitching Post, looking to snap up as much rat poison as possible before it went off the market. However, though Frances Anderson’s story dealing with new poison control rules had some readers alarmed, careful reading revealed the situation was not as dire as many thought.
The main concern was that the chemicals used to keep rat and mice populations under control would no longer be available, but this is not the case...for farmers and business owners. It is, however, the case for homeowners.
Rat poison has typically been available in three forms: domestic, commercial, and agricultural.
But due to new rules passed by Health Canada, mirroring similar laws put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US, the domestic versions of the most potent poisons are being phased out.
According to Hitching Post owner Steve Hutton, farmers will still be able to purchase the poisons they’re accustomed to using, provided they can prove they’re a farmer by producing documentation from organizations such as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, or the National Farmers’ Union. Likewise, businesses can continue purchasing their commercial brands. But once The Hitching Post, as well as other stores that sell rat poison, see their stocks of domestic product run out, that’s it. Homeowners will have to start relying on traps, glue boards, or poisons housed in pre-bated stations that are so weak that they have little-to-no effect on pest populations.
“The average mouse would have to eat (the equivalent) of eight bait stations before it has an effect,” says Hutton. “By that time, it could already have had two or three litters.” Hutton adds that the likelihood of each litter being born with immunity to the poison grows with each generation, and, at an average cost of $8 per bait station, homeowners are looking at a high price just to kill one mouse.
Farmers, meanwhile, can still use the poisons they’re used to, however the method they use to deliver it has to change. Within farm buildings, poison must be enclosed in a locked bait station or placed somewhere where pets and children can’t access it. Outside, above-ground traps within 100 metres of a building must be similarly locked. “A lot of farmers have made their own bait stations, but because they can’t be locked, they can’t use them anymore,” says Hutton.
The rush on The Hitching Post saw Hutton sell as much poison in one month as he would normally move in two or three, but he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the changes. “They did the same thing with fly sprays a year and a bit ago,” he shrugs.