San Joaquin kit foxes, © USFWS

Say Goodbye to d-CON!

It is finally time to start saying goodbye to d-CON, a highly toxic rat poison, and that farewell can’t come soon enough for imperiled wildlife. A recent agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the pesticide’s manufacturer, Reckitt-Benckiser, ensures that d-CON will finally be taken off the shelves. The agreement also brings to an end a long-running effort to force the company to do the right thing and stop selling the product – an effort that Defenders of Wildlife has been a part of for some time.

Northern spotted owl, © USFWS

Owls like this one could become sick or die after eating rodents that had been poisoned by d-CON

The battle over rodenticides goes back to 1998 when the EPA initially proposed steps to protect children, wildlife, and pets from accidental ingestion of rat poisons. But in 2001, in the face of industry opposition, EPA withdrew the requirements. In 2008, the EPA moved forward with regulations, urging rat poison manufacturers to shelve some of their products voluntarily due to unreasonable risks to children, wildlife, and pets, but Reckitt-Benckiser refused to implement the new protections. EPA then issued another order in 2013 cancelling the products’ registration – a move that prohibits the sale of these super-toxic rat poisons without tamper-resistant packaging. Reckitt-Benckiser demanded an administrative hearing to challenge this common-sense precaution. At this point, it was clear the industry was determined to bully the EPA into allowing them to continue the sale of these dangerous substances, which posed a threat not only to children and pets, but to native wildlife as well. In April 2013, Defenders and our allies joined the fight against these substances to support the EPA’s case and provide our expertise on the impact to wildlife.

Meanwhile, the State of California recently took its own action against d-CON products, banning retail sale of that and other anti-coagulant rodenticides in the state starting in July. Not surprisingly, Reckitt-Benckiser also challenged these rules in state court and Defenders again intervened to prevent the company from overturning these new protections.

San Joaquin kit fox, © USFWS

Even endangered San Joaquin kit foxes felt the impact of d-CON.

The state’s new restrictions sought to protect wildlife, pets, and children from accidental poisonings, which have been documented in at least 25 species of wild animals in California, including mountain lions, hawks, endangered San Joaquin kit foxes, and northern spotted owls, as well as numerous cats and dogs. According to data from the EPA, each year up to 10,000 children are accidentally exposed to rat poisons in their homes. Anticoagulant rodenticides, such as d-CON, interfere with blood clotting, resulting in uncontrollable bleeding, leading to death, and second-generation anticoagulants are especially hazardous. Rats and mice often eat these slow-acting poisons over several days, causing the toxins to accumulate at many times the lethal dose in their tissues, which in turn poisons predators, the innocent victims, when they prey on the weakened rodents. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife tested nearly 500 wild animals between 1995 and 2011, and their study found second-generation anticoagulants in more than 70 percent of wildlife tested, including eagles, hawks, owls, foxes, bobcats, and mountain lions.

After all this fighting, it’s great news that EPA and Reckitt-Benckiser have finally reached an agreement to limit these super-toxic poisons nationwide. As with any significant stride, it won’t happen overnight – the company agreed to stop producing the super-toxic rat poisons by the end of 2014, and to replace them with safer products by March 2015. Shortly after the announcement, Reckitt-Benckiser also dismissed their challenge to the California regulations.

At the end of the day, elimination of these products is a huge win for wildlife, people and pets. Defenders and our conservation allies will continue to watchdog the issue to hold Reckitt-Benckiser accountable and make sure the company follows through with its agreement.

Anne Russell Gregory is the Conservation Law Coordinator for Defenders of Wildlife

21 Responses to “Say Goodbye to d-CON!”

  1. Jamie Porter-Knox

    Please eliminate the use of Decon! There are more humane ways to kill rodents that don’t have the unintended consequences of poisoning other animals. We must stop killing wildlife, and ourselves, with these horrible toxins.

    • Herb Bartel

      We are glad that d-con is being withdrawn but we have a growing rat problem at our farm. What do you suggest we use to reduce their numbers?

    • kiah

      I think that Decon should be completely banned its just like the DDT case were peregrine falcons and other animals were getting severely sick.

  2. P. Dyer

    Great! We don’t need toxic poisons anyway! It does much more harm than good.

  3. Alexander Yeung

    Toxin that kill wild life will make thing much worse. It a good thing people began to change for the better.

  4. Angela antonisse-oxley

    First of all, congrats on this!! My concern and possibly a loophole for them is when it says it will replace with a “safer” type. Is there a measure to which this has to be done?
    Let’s hope they are sincere.

  5. C Lyle

    What about the other rat poisons, like “Just One Bite”?

  6. Erica

    A few years ago, I noticed rocnitedide bait traps in the landscape of the Sacramento Natural Foods Coop (SNFC). I contacted the manager and provided information about the dangers of using poison and how it also harms non-targeted wildlife and pets. The reply I got was basically, we can’t have rats at the coop . I understand how rats can not be tolerated in the store or buildings, but this method of control is not the solution. I sent another letter with more information, but the bait traps remained and are still in place.Recent reports state that rocnitedide poisons are causing increasing harm to wildlife and have escalated. Also, wild care rescues report that there is a rise in raptor rehabilitation related to emaciation and the inability of raptors to locate enough food to survive. This is attributed to the use of rocnitedides causing a loss of adequate and safe food sources.Once again, I have sent information to SNFC including a link to your site and other places of information. I lost a dear and precious cat who was an awesome rat catcher to poisoning by a neighbor who was using rocnitedides. This is a big problem for many pet owners as well. The UC Davis Veterinary Hospital also report a rise in companion animal poisonings from these toxic products.The Humane Society of the United States had a petition action addressing this issue:California: Restrict the Sale of Harmful Rat PoisonsThank you for your continued advocacy and help in educating others about this problem.

  7. Robert. Oxfurth

    I am sometimes forced to use D-Con in my detached garage. I live in a rural area bordered by woodland. Mice are a constant problem. They have made nests in my cars at times which cost me a lot of money to have removed.

    I care very much for the enviriroment and would very much like to find an alternative to use. Killing mice using an anti-coagulant is a terrible thing to do to any living thing, even a mouse. Their death is not a quick one and is probably a painful one also.

    • Andrew Johnson

      One suggestion – the alternative poisons are far worse than dCon. Try managing them without poisons, at all…

  8. maureen rothwell

    D-con should have never been made. such a horrific death for anything that ingests it. so cruel and inhumane. for everyone out there using d~con, mousetraps, glue papers etc., please use peppermint! it works 100% and it will not harm any animal or humans. It comes in many forms, oil, spray, and little tea like pouches. IT works quickly and lasts a long time and best thing too it’s cheap!

  9. Melissa Warfield

    I never buy stuff I don’t know about. There are better ways to control these critters and it is using lavender, vanilla etc. They smell better and most critters cannot take the smell.

  10. Concern About Wildlife

    I am not surprise that the government agencies are looking at in what cost of keeping species foxes life!

    Also, people who have ranches and they cattle, goats, and other animals that they raising and they are overlooking the wildlife, who were first!

    What I see here that there has to be balance between people and their live stock and with wildlife!

  11. Robert F DeStefano

    This stuff is just like DDT! We should’ve got rid of ages ago. The best way to control rodents is with foxes, coyotes, house cats, etc. Good by and good riddence D-con!

    • Andrew Johnson

      I could not agree more about the foxes and coyotes. Unfortunately, they are also being poisoned with far worse agents, like cyanide.

  12. Animal lover

    THANK YOU for Finally getting d-con off of the shelves. I have warned my friends and family for years how deadly this product is.
    One friend lost their cat of 10 years to d-con poisoning when their cat ate a mouse that had eaten a full tray of the stuff.
    Another lost his dog to d-con when he wasn’t paying attention and his dog ate a whole bag of

  13. Doris

    Hallelujah, thank God, so atrocious that poison away, thanks for your work

  14. Dennis

    I am glad to hear that and I do not want that poison around where I keep my pets that poison is dangerous.

  15. Andrew Johnson

    This is unfortunately a horribly misguided and unfortunate decision.
    While brodifacoum (the anticoagulant in dCon) certainly is nasty, toxic stuff, it also takes up to a week to cause death and has a simple antidote. As a veterinarian, my hospital regularly saves numerous dogs, cats, and wildlife from brodifacoum poisoning each year. The alternative products, such as bromethalin (the neurotoxin in Vengeance and Assault), cholecalciferol (the hypercalcemia-inducing agent in Rampage), and zinc phosphide (the toxic gas-producing agent in Commando) act more quickly, have NO antidote and, as a result, kill most dogs, cats, wildlife and – yes – children, who are exposed to these each year. In fact, phosphine-gas producing agents have even killed veterinarians and wildlife agents who have handled animals killed by this product.
    Having had regular experience with toxicities caused by most of these agents, I would GREATLY prefer to use an anticoagulant rodenticide in any area accessible to my pets or kids … though NO use (= no exposure) is clearly preferable. Clearly, wildlife exposure to any of these agents is to be avoided at all costs. However, to address this by first banning the safest agent available is backwards thinking, and many pets, children, and – yes – even wildlife will die as a result of this decision.

  16. mark

    The manufacturer and anyone who sells DCon is a criminal, pure and simple. No compromise.

  17. Michelle Conlon

    I have used Dcon on my 0ld farm for years,the rats are marsh rats, they walk right by the new products and into my chicken coop now we are hearing them in the house. I love wildlife but we are going to end up with the plague over time, just like lyme from not spraying for bugs.I do believe Humans come first but we are going to pay for this in the long run. People need to take responsibility to make sure their kids and anI’m also stay away from it. Very irresponsible

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