Gopher Poison

Res #: 23-05M
Number: 23
Year: 2005
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Health Canada

Resolution No. 23-05M

WHEREAS, the gopher population needs to be better controlled, and

WHEREAS, the current pre-mixed products are ineffective; and

WHEREAS, liquid strychnine has proved to be the most effective gopher control product;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM continue to lobby to have liquid strychnine made available until such time as there is a better product on the market.

Response from Karen L. Dodds, Ph.D, Executive Director, Pest Management Regulatory Agency:

Before 1993, strychnine was available as a 2% concentrate that users mixed with grain prior to use. The 2% liquid strychnine was very toxic and a number of poisonings to dogs and wildlife occurred. There is no effective antidote available for poisoning from strychnine. "Fresh" 0.4% strychnine baits are now commercially available in Canada, which are effective and safer for farmers to handle than the 2% strychnine liquid concentrate. The governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan are supportive of these commercially available "fresh" strychnine baits. Most OECD countries are moving away from strychnine use in any form. EU countries will not be using strychnine for pest control by this time next year. Above-ground uses of strychnine in the U.S. have been prohibited since 1988.

The current Health Canada regulatory proposal only extends the use of strychnine for Richardson's ground squirrel control for the next three years, after which time the issues posed by strychnine will be reexamined. This reassessment will consider the availability of viable alternatives at that time. We recognize the challenges faced by producers in controlling Richardson's ground squirrels, however reliance on strychnine is not sustainable in the long-term. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy is being developed to help producers better manage the ground squirrel problem, while offering a safer approach for the environment and for farmers handling strychnine-treated bait and other toxic substances. The IPM strategy input comes from a wide area of expertise: ranchers and crop producers; provincial governments of Alberta and Saskatchewan; rural municipality associations; Health Canada's PMRA; the Canadian Wildlife Service; the University of Lethbridge; and chemical companies. Work done to date has already added to our knowledge.