Continued Use of Strychnine for Control of Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

Res #: 19-22A
Number: 19
Year: 2022
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

WHEREAS control of the Richardson’s’ Ground Squirrel (hereinafter referred to as “RGS”) is essential for supporting agricultural sustainability and diversification;
WHEREAS many RM’s in Saskatchewan have contributed to the control of the RGS on agricultural land for decades at various levels. Examples of these contributions include subsidizing strychnine, facilitating the sale of control products, assisting in the coordination of test areas for study, even paying rewards for ‘tails’ brought to the municipal office;
WHEREAS strychnine has proven to be the most effective in controlling RGS, yet maintains low environmental and public health impacts; and
WHEREAS that in order to save the environmental destruction of RGS inflation as well as prevent costly losses in agricultural commodities – rendering the efforts already made (financial or otherwise) to control RGS essentially wasted.
BE IT RESOLVED SARM further lobby for continued registration of strychnine for control of RGS.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment

June 14, 2022

The Government of Saskatchewan is aware that registered alternatives to strychnine for the control of ground squirrel populations are reputed to be less effective, more labour-intensive and more expensive than strychnine. The government submitted a Notice of Objection to the final decision by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) regarding strychnine for ground squirrel control in April 2020. In February 2021, the Government of Saskatchewan requested an extension from the PMRA on the proposed restriction on the sale and use of strychnine in Canada.

The ministries of Environment and Agriculture requested that the implementation of the manufacture and sales deadlines be delayed by one year, and that the permitted use be extended by eighteen months, until September 2024.

This request was rejected by the PMRA. In December 2021, Health Canada stated that the notice of objection had been reviewed and assessed; however, the decision to phase out strychnine was upheld. The current status remains: cancellation of manufacturing in March 2021, final sales in March 2022, and the final use of the product in March 2023.

The Ministry of Agriculture is exploring the cost, efficacy and non-target effects of registered alternative options for ground squirrel management, including zinc phosphide, a type of rodenticide.

Hon. Dana Skoropad – Minister of Environment