Gopher Control – Strychnine

Res #: 23-07M
Number: 23
Year: 2007
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Health Canada

Resolution No. 23 – 07M
Gopher Control – Strychnine

WHEREAS problems with Richardson’s Ground Squirrels (RGS) were first noted by this association at the 1909 convention when delegates asked that the government continue to provide a $20 per township rebate for poisoning with strychnine;

WHEREAS until 1993 Liquid Strychnine Concentrate (LSC) was available to producers to control RGS; and

WHEREAS since 1993 when our most effective control method became unavailable RGS populations have been growing and now have exploded resulting in millions of dollars in losses to producers;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM call for a full reinstatement of 2% LSC to all Alberta and Saskatchewan  farmers until such time as federal, provincial and municipal governments, together with regulatory bodies and wildlife biologists can produce a cost effective, more environmentally friendly control with a  proven  efficacy of at least 70% ; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the rural municipalities of Saskatchewan lead this initiative by agreeing to contribute $500 on a voluntary basis and begin the long overdue research to find a more effective and environmentally acceptable RGS control.

Response from Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health

In response to resolutions No. 21-07M, No. 22-07M and No. 23-07M, please note that Health Canada has sponsored research to examine the relative efficacy of strychnine-based products, aluminum phosphide (Phostoxin) and chlorophacinone (Rozol) for controlling Richardson's ground squirrels.  Results indicate that none of these products alone will solve the problem of Richardson's ground squirrels. Although the registered control products may provide a satisfactory level of control at population levels normally encountered in the Prairies, they are insufficient at controlling the extremely high population levels that currently exist in certain locations.

Health Canada is aware that the control of major Richardson's ground squirrel infestations must consider the integration of available products and management practice, and the cost and viabillity of these options.  The Department recognizes that the only economically feasible option in the short term in some situations may be the use of 2% liquid strychnine.  Therefore, Health Canada has granted a one-year emergency registration of 2% liquid strychnine concentrate to areas in Saskatchewan identified as having a specific high level of infestation.

The emergency registration relies upon the participation, stewardship, and support of many stakeholders, including SARM.  Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food was asked to oversee the distribution and use of 2% strychnine concentrate and to facilitate a regional approach that would  help bring the population of Richardson's ground squirrels to a level that currently registered control products could control.  The conditions of registration were added to minimize the potential impact of 2% liquid strychnine concentrate on humans and non-target species, which was an important consideration in the cancellation of the use of strychnine concentrate in 1992.  Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has also been approached to participate in and support a munltifacted research program aimed at the development of new and more sustainable methods of control.  I understand SARM is supportive of this research.

Under the Pest Control Product Regulations, emergency registrations can only be granted for a period of  up to one year.  in the case of the recent registrations granted to Saskatchewan, Health Canada recognizes that a control program (including research) may require and extension for which a formal request will be needed.

The department is hopeful that the combination of the availability of 2% liquid strychnine through an emergency registration and research into alternatives, will help producers make headway against this significant pest problem.  If the situation , has not changed substantially for the 2009 – 2010 use season, Health Canada will consider a new emergency registration if warranted.