Challenging the PMRA’s liquid strychnine ban

Challenging the PMRA’s liquid strychnine ban
Mar 18, 2020

Use of liquid strychnine will be phased out over three years

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

At least one Prairie group plans to challenge a federal decision that will phase out the use of a key ingredient in controlling Richardson’s ground squirrels (gophers).

On March 4, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) released its re-evaluation decision over the use of 2 per cent liquid strychnine. The agency began its review in 2018.

The gradual phase out of strychnine would take place over three years from the March 4 decision.

Health Canada determined “that the environmental risks associated with the use of strychnine and its associated end-use product to control Richardson’s ground squirrels were not shown to be acceptable when this product is used according to the label directions and required mitigation measures,” the PMRA’s decision says.

Groups or individuals who disagree with the decision have 60 days to challenge the ruling.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) hopes to be part of a formal challenge before the end of the month.

The organization plans to meet with the provincial minister of agriculture as any official objection must come from a provincial government.

Without the use strychnine, gopher populations could increase significantly and cause issues for producers, said Ray Orb, president of SARM.

“In dry years, the populations seem to explode. Gophers can do a lot of damage to a crop, especially when it’s young,” he told “We’ve seen cases where these rodents have wiped out entire crop fields in a matter of days, so farmers need this tool available when necessary.”

Other products to control gophers and similar animals are available but could be hazardous to other animals, Orb said.

“You have to use an above-ground bait station, but it exposes (the bait) to other animals,” he said. “You don’t want to have a cow or other livestock eat it.”

With the liquid strychnine, producers can coat oats or other grains with it to bait the rodents.

Other rural organizations are watching the PMRA ruling as well.

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) is waiting to see how Premier Kenney’s government reacts Health Canada’s decision.

The organization is “connecting with the Government of Alberta to determine what our next steps might be,” Tasha Blumenthal, director of external relations and advocacy with RMA, told in an email.

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Comments (1)

Those aren’t Gophers, those are Ground Squirrels, there is a major difference. Pocket Gophers are strict Herbivores while Ground Squirrels are Omnivores and they will eat baits. Pocket Gophers do not, they push foreign objects out of their tunnels and then leave them on the surface where birds, wildlife, pets, livestock and children can easily access. Have you noticed how the bird population has decreased everywhere? It’s because everyone is misusing the baits. We’ve even observed an applicator spreading it like grass seed! The Rodenticides do work for many species but they don’t eat and die on the spot, they travel and predators eat them, then they die. It’s those predatory birds that we need for natural control. Many of the products on the US market are brightly dyed pink, yellow and green; which can be mistaken for candy by small kids. The seeds and grain are easily ingested by birds and they fall anywhere, then consumed by secondary unintended targets. If they want to put restrictions on specific species, they need to learn about the species first and then check the labels and find out if they even tested it out on that species to begin with because in the US, of the products we’ve researched; testing on products for “gophers” all pocket gophers were done on rats, mice and ferrets, not one we’re tested on gophers, with the exception of traps. Many things have been allowed to be cross-labeled when they shouldn’t have been. If they remove all products from the market that do work for these correct species that will consume the products, they’re going to create a serious imbalance in the species and end up with overpopulation, stresses and diseased, like Bubonic Plague as the fleas will have less distance to travel between victims. Pocket Gophers eat live plants not dead. They require sugar to sustain their energy levels. When you spend as many years as we have studying, tracking and trapping them, we are able to learn a few things
The Gopher Getters |Mar 23 2020 1:48AM

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