Breaking the Poison Chain

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Friends of Griffith Park has carried out considerable behind-the-scene efforts to encourage the Department of Recreation and Parks to use alternatives to rodenticides, particularly anticoagulant rat poisons which climb the food chain to kill (or make ill) owls, bobcats, coyotes, hawks, foxes, and even P-22. We think wildlife is appreciative of our persistence!

Now it’s time to eliminate rat poison usage in the residential areas of Los Angeles – after all, ­wildlife moves freely between residential and public places. Here are tips for keeping our urban wildlife healthy by not using rat poisons:

Primary Rodent Control

  • Get rid of favorite food sources such as spilled bird seeds, pet foods, fruit rotting on trees, snails and slugs.
  • Eliminate rodents’ favorite habitats, such as English ivy, wood piles, and other outdoor sheltering spots.
  • Seal it. Rodents find ways into sub-basements, vents, and attics. Openings – even dime-sized holes – must be sealed.
  • Remove grass, vegetation, and any debris next to your house and buildings.

Secondary Rodent Control

  • If rodents are numerous or have breached your home, mechanical or electronic traps are the most humane method to deal with the problem. Don’t use glue traps; don’t use live traps. Other wildlife could get entangled and besides, it’s very cruel.
  • If you call a pest control company, insist they not use anticoagulant rat poisons. There are many harmless-sounding trade names for the same nasty poisons hidden in “bait boxes” so don’t be fooled.
  • Old fashioned wood snap traps work fine and are inexpensive. Electronic traps work, too. There are even electronic traps that will send you an email notice when tripped! How’s that for technology?

And finally, don’t freak out just because you saw a mouse, rat, or even two! As in Griffith Park, many rodent species are part of a normal ecosystem. In the Park, rodent species include the very cool dusky-footed woodrat and the cute California vole.

~Gerry Hans


There are electronic and other traps available in stores and online that eliminate rats and mice without resorting to rodenticides. These can range substantially in price and capability. Make sure to shop around when you’re comparison-shopping to get exactly what you want.

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