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Speak out against inhumane rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede

Cruelty at the Calgary Stampede

Canada’s largest rodeo, the Calgary Stampede, is making a full return for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Animals will be subjected to inhumane bucking, wrestling and roping events. This year will mark the first time the chuckwagon races are being held since 2019, when 6 horses died. To date, more than 100 animals have died at the Calgary Stampede.

Share the truth about rodeo

The Vancouver Humane Society is collaborating with concerned Calgarians to raise awareness about the distress and unnecessary risk of injury and death that animals face in rodeo events at the Calgary Stampede.

The new microsite, RodeoTruth.com, hosts a wealth of information, including the latest science about rodeo-related animal welfare issues; a breakdown of the Calgary Stampede rodeo events; engaging videos that you can share to help raise public awareness; and a #SayNoToRodeo pledge that you can take to reflect your opposition to inhumane rodeo events.

Help speak up for animals used in rodeos by sharing the new Rodeo Truth website and taking the #SayNoToRodeo pledge.

Follow & share Rodeo Truth on social media

You can also follow the new Rodeo Truth social media pages on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for more content you can share to raise awareness of – and opposition to – cruel rodeo events.

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News/Blog

Public feedback needed on dairy farm practices

Update

The comment period for the “Dairy Cattle Code of Practice” has now ended. The updated code is set to be released later in 2022. Thank you for helping to ensure animals’ well-being is considered in this consultation.

The National Farm Animal Care Council’s (NFACC) “Codes of Practice” serve as guidelines for the care and handling of animals in Canada’s animal agriculture industry. The “Dairy Cattle Code of Practice” was last updated in 2009 and since that time cruelty cases, as recently as late last year at a B.C.-based dairy farm, have demonstrated serious systemic non-compliance in the dairy industry. 

NFACC is considering changes to the Code of Practice and is asking for public feedback. Your input is needed prior to the January 27th deadline to help advocate for stronger protections for cows on dairy farms.

We’ve compiled a summary of 13 key points below – please be sure to submit constructive comments in your own words. Do not copy and paste the key points below, as duplicate comments will not be considered.  

Participate in the “Dairy Cattle Code of Practice” public comment period before the January 27th deadline.

Note: If you don’t have time to comment on the specific sections, you can choose to leave general comments by clicking on the “general comments on the code” section, at the end of the survey

13 key points:

  • Section 1: Training – Consider sharing about how previous cruel handling of cows on Canadian dairy farms (e.g. such as kicking, punching, and beating animals, as seen in the following cases: Chilliwack Cattle Sales in 2014, Cedar Valley Farms in 2021) reflects a need for stronger requirements around supervision of staff, animal welfare training, and a process for staff to report concerns that ensures accountability.
A veal calf from the dairy industry chained up during the Quebec winter. Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur \ We Animals Media.
  • Section 2.2.1: Calves (Pre-Weaning) – Currently, calves are commonly kept in individual housing and are only required to be housed in a way that allows them to easily stand up, lie down, turn around and adopt a normal resting posture, with visual contact with other calves. In your comments, ask for a requirement for a full, immediate ban on tethering of calves. There should also be an immediate requirement that calves have access to an area outside of a hutch and are housed in social groups with other calves as young as possible and not later than 3 weeks of age. 
  • Section 2.2.3: Lactating and Dry Cows – Currently, cows can be kept tied in individual stalls and there is no requirement for access to pasture, outdoors or a covered, bedded pen. Share in your own words that tie-stall housing prevents freedom of movement and that a deadline should be set to phase out tie stalls as soon as possible for lactating and dry cows, as well as for heifers. Ask that housing be required to allow daily freedom of movement, exercise and social interactions year-round. Ask that pasture or outdoor access, as weather permits, and daily access to a large, covered bedded pen that allows for exercise, rest, and socialization also be a requirement. 
A calf and mother dairy cow.
A calf and mother at Sanctuaire pour animaux de ferme de l’Estrie in Quebec. Photo: Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur We Animals Media.
  • Section 2.3.1: Calving Areas – Currently, cows can be kept in stalls (including in tie stalls) while giving birth. In your comments, ask that a quicker deadline for calving in loose housed pens or pastures be required. The separation of cows and their calves soon after birth is also not addressed in this section. Separation is distressing for both the cow and calf and research shows health and social benefits when kept together. Research shows that there are active, modern farms using cow-calf systems that allow mothers and young to be together. Share in your own words why the separation of cows and their young is a concern for you as a consumer and that the industry needs to address this issue and move away from this practice.   
  • Section 2.5.1: Electric Trainers – Ask for a requirement that prohibits electric trainers, as using an electric shock device to “train” cows to urinate and defecate outside of the stall bed poses welfare issues.
  • Section 2.8: Bedding Management – In your own words, express your support for the requirement that cattle must have a resting surface with bedding, as research shows that large amounts of bedding is a crucial welfare improvement. Ask that specific bedding depth requirements be added. 
  • Section 2.10: Pasture and Exercise Yards – Currently, there is no requirement that cows have access to pasture or outdoors. Ask that pasture or outdoor access, as weather permits, and daily access to a large, covered bedded pen that allows for exercise, rest, and socialization be a requirement. In your own words, highlight one of more of the following benefits: more freedom of movement; exercise opportunities; ability to socialize and engage in more natural behaviours; reduced risk of lameness and other health problems.  
A flooded dairy farm in Abbotsford BC.
A dairy farm sits just above the floodwaters in Abbotsford, BC. Photo: Nick Schafer \ We Animals Media.
  • Section 2.11: Emergencies and Safety – In 2021, approximately 1.3 million farmed animals in B.C. died during record-breaking heat waves and flooding. This reflects the need for stronger emergency preparedness and plans for farms. Ask for required emergency planning that includes a realistic and achievable strategy to ensure animals can safely be evacuated from farms in an emergency.
  • Section 4.1 Handling, Moving and Restraining Cattle – In your own words, express your support for the requirement that prohibits the use of electric prods.  
  • Section 4.1.1: Additional Considerations when moving or handling down cattle Ask for a requirement that electric prods also be banned for use on “down” cows who appear unable to get up. Instead, assisting a down animal should include the use of more humane tools when appropriate, such as full body slings and transport mats. Express your support for the requirement that prohibits down cattle from being moved by hoisting by chain, dragging or lifting without adequate support. Again, here you can highlight how previous cruelty cases have showcased mistreatment and mishandling of animals and that this requires stronger staff training and supervision related to moving and handling animals. 
  • Section 5.3: Caring for Sick, Injured or Compromised Animals – Express your support for the requirement that cattle in pain (from a condition or procedure) must be provided prompt pain control. Ask that this requirement be elaborated on to include the use of local anesthesia (to prevent acute pain) and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (to reduce longer lasting pain)
A close-up of a dairy cow's eye in a transport truck.
A dairy cow is transported. Photo: Louise Jorgensen / We Animals Media.
  • Section 6.1.1: Fitness for transport – Currently, compromised animals (e.g. those with mild lameness, those who have not fully healed after a procedure) can still be transported. Dairy cows sent to auction or slaughter after their milk production declines are particularly vulnerable during transport. Ask that it be required that unfit and compromised animals are not allowed to be transported, as it poses a serious welfare concern.  
  • 6.1.3: Preparing Cattle for Transportation – Currently, cows are commonly transported while still lactating, putting them at risk for udder issues, including mastitis, due to a change in their milking routine. Ask for a requirement that cows are not lactating at the time of transport.  

Note: clicking the button below will open the link in a new tab. You can still return to this tab to review the key points.

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News/Blog

BC: end unnecessary owl deaths

VHS and BC residents call for comprehensive rodenticide ban

Following a public campaign gathering B.C. resident signatures in support of a comprehensive rodenticide ban, the Vancouver Humane Society has submitted a letter to provincial decision-makers and reported on public support for the campaign. This document contains scientific evidence for improving regulations of rodenticides. At the time of submission, 2582 B.C. residents signed on in support of the campaign and its recommendations for a full ban. This letter is a direct response to B.C.’s update to its Rodenticide Action Plan.

You can read the briefing note by clicking the button below or scrolling down this page.

January 5, 2022

Integrated Pest Management & Bonding Team
PO Box 9341 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC
V8W 9M1
ENV.mail@gov.bc.ca

Discussion & Recommendations for Rodenticide Action Plan (RAP)

Summary of recommendations

  • Scientific evidence demonstrates significant negative impacts on wildlife, particularly raptors and owls, due to all rodenticides.
  • Effective and sustainable alternative solutions exist to address human-rodent conflicts, including high quality snap traps, captive bolt traps, rodent contraceptives, and exclusion and preventative measures.
  • The current temporary, partial ban is unenforceable and it’s impossible for the public to identify non-compliance. The exemptions will continue to result in significant animal suffering and wildlife losses.
  • Following the current 18-month ban, 2582 B.C. residents support a comprehensive ban on all rodenticides and a significant decrease in exemptions, which have been shown to threaten wildlife.

Introduction

The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is a registered charity dedicated to the humane treatment of animals. The VHS advocates for humane wildlife management practices and, as such, supports an end to the use of inhumane and indiscriminate rodenticides, in favour of humane alternatives and preventative measures that address the root cause of human-rodent conflict. 

Background

Rodenticide use

The use of rodent poisons has become a primary approach for managing unwanted rodent populations. In British Columbia, the quantity of rodenticide products sold increased from 62,233 kg in 2010 to 81,340 kg sold in 2015.[i] Despite suggestions that rodenticides are intended to be a temporary, last resort, it appears that in practice these products are used much more routinely, at times even proactively and permanently.[ii]

There is no evidence that indicates the permanent use of rodenticides is the most effective method for reducing rodent populations. In fact, the regular use of rodenticides has resulted in resistance among rodent populations to some poisons.[iii]

Negative impacts of rodenticides

The impact of rodenticides not only on target species, but also on non-target wildlife, pets, and the environment is a growing public concern. By design, rodenticide baits aim to attract animals, creating a risk for primary poisoning of wildlife and pets, should they access the bait directly. Secondary poisoning of non-target species that may consume poisoned rodents, such as coyotes, raccoons, hawks, eagles and owls, is also a major concern. Data has shown that residues of anticoagulant rodenticides have been found in all tested species of raptors that inhabit agricultural landscapes in southwestern British Columbia, reflecting the widespread impacts of secondary poisoning among predators and scavengers.[iv] In addition to this, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.[v]

There are also concerns surrounding the bioaccumulation of rodenticides across a variety of species and the impact of these poisons on the larger environment. Evidence of contamination among insects, slugs, and songbirds reflect how these poisons may move through the food chain.[vi] Meanwhile, the prevalence of these toxins in the environment, along with the decomposing remains of poisoned animals, may also contribute to contamination of soil and water.[vii]

Rodenticides contribute to significant and prolonged suffering for target and non-target species, taking days and sometimes even weeks for poisoned animals to die.[viii] For animals that don’t die, the effects of sub-lethal rodenticide poisoning, including lethargy and internal bleeding, may put them at increased risk of injury or death due to other causes, such as window and vehicle strikes. For example, a sub-lethal dose of anticoagulant rodenticides, which prevents blood clotting, in an owl could mean an injury causing an otherwise survivable cut could lead to the animal bleeding to death.[ix] Research also suggests that rats that experience external bleeding or bloody diarrhea, as a result of consuming anticoagulants, present a public health risk as contact with their blood can increase the chance of pathogen transmission to humans.[x]

Current situation

Municipal & provincial bans

While recent action by a growing number of B.C. municipalities to restrict or ban rodenticides on city property, along with the provincial government’s temporary, partial ban on second generation anticoagulant rodenticides are important first steps, further action is needed to effectively address the widespread use and impacts of rodenticide products.

Other rodenticides

B.C.’s temporary 18-month ban prohibits only second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), leaving first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs) and other rodenticides permitted for use. Many of these products not included in the ban, such as bromethalin, zinc phosphide, chlorophacinone, diphacinone, and warfarin, are also inhumane and pose the above mentioned threats to wildlife, pets and the environment. Diphacinone and chlorophacinone, for example, are high risk for secondary poisoning for wild mammals, dogs and cats.[xi] Concerns have also been raised by veterinarians in regards to secondary poisoning by bromethalin, a neurotoxin that targets the central nervous system and causes paralysis and convulsions, as there is no specific antidote.[xii] Another non-anticoagulant, zinc phosphide, produces a toxic gas in the animal’s body, leading to respiratory distress. Warfarin has been so widely used that rodents are becoming increasingly resistant to it, yet its use continues to harm non-target wildlife.[xiii] In practice, pest control companies can simply replace the now-banned SGAR products with these other types of rodenticides.

Exemptions

The current temporary ban also permits the continued use of SGARs by a long list of exempt users, including agricultural operators, hospitals, gas stations, food processing and storage facilities, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, transportation facilities, sanitation facilities, coroners and facilities performing mortuary services.[xiv] Given the lengthy list of exemptions, it’s inevitable that the use of these products will continue to result in direct and indirect poisoning of wildlife, pets, as well as negative impacts on our food systems that would benefit from more research. The current list of exemptions is based on the Covid-19 essential services list, raising questions about the list’s applicability to a very different issue of rodenticides and the government’s justifications for allowing the continued use of SGARs in each of these situations. For example, allowing the continued use of SGARs in locations where wildlife activity is common, such as at garbage dumps or recycling facilities, is especially problematic in terms of the strong likelihood of poisoning of non-target wildlife.

Issues of non-compliance & lack of transparency

Non-compliance with the current SGAR ban is an area of concern, as evidence of suspected SGAR use in prohibited locations continues to be found and reported by members of the public. In a number of these situations, upon the public reporting bait boxes labeled as containing SGARs in prohibited locations, the Ministry has responded that the bait boxes were mislabeled and did not contain SGARs. This was the case in a recent report of a SGAR bait box at the Ministry of Environment’s office in Victoria.[xv] The mislabeling of these bait boxes fails to align with the Integrated Pest Management regulations, which require labeling indicating the pesticide’s active ingredient or its registration number under the federal Act.[xvi] This raises questions about overall compliance with and enforcement of the regulations and the recent ban. It also creates issues around transparency, as the public cannot be certain as to whether or not poisons (and prohibited poisons specifically) are in use in their community. 

Enforcement of ban and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

The provincial government also requires that rodenticides only be used after following the principles of “Integrated Pest Management” (IPM). Specifically, IPM requires that preventative measures to address rodent attractants and structural flaws are implemented and that rodenticides are a last resort and temporary treatment, with other sustainable long-term strategies prioritized.[xvii] It is unclear how IPM is tracked and enforced to ensure the use of alternative approaches are exhausted before resorting to rodenticides, but the outcome of a series of inspections by provincial IPM officers in 2019 raises cause for concern. A total of 311 inspections were conducted, which found that only 39% were in compliance.[xviii]

In public education webinars hosted by Ministry staff outlining the temporary ban, it was noted that SGAR users must keep records about rodenticide use and IPM measures implemented, but these records are not required to be submitted to government.[xix] Without strong government oversight and proactive enforcement of the ban and IPM requirements related to preventative measures and rodenticide use, industry compliance will largely be based on the honour system and there will be a heavy reliance on the public to identify suspected violations. As previously noted, with the allowances given by government regarding labelling (e.g. mislabeled or label inside box) it’s not possible for the public to identify where prohibited poisons are in use.

Alternative approaches & products

The expansion of humane alternative products and approaches in recent years presents an opportunity for government to shift from rodenticide use and to prioritize further research and trials around innovative and sustainable alternatives. Alternative products for rodent control or lethal management, when necessary, range from high-quality snap traps; captive bolt traps and other mechanical systems (e.g. Goodnature device); rodent contraceptives (e.g. Contrapest); remote monitoring technology; and measures to support the presence of natural rodent predators, such as owls, through building owl boxes. Natural predators can help keep rodent populations in check, with evidence suggesting that a family of owls can consume more than 1,000 rodents per year.[xx] It’s worth reiterating that the use of rodenticides reduces natural rodent control through secondary poisoning of owls and other predators.

Some initial research surrounding the Goodnature A24 rat and mouse trap has been conducted, including recently in North Vancouver and at the University of British Columbia. The evidence suggests the Goodnature trap is more cost-effective than rodenticides and it eliminates the risk of poisoning of other animals and the environment. [xxi] [xxii]

Humane Solutions, a B.C.-based wildlife management and pest control company, reports strong success with their poison-free approach to dealing with rodent conflict, including in high-attractant scenarios, such as in agricultural, industrial and commercial settings. Their approach focusses on resolving attractants, structural flaws and access points. Structural removal includes the use of one-way doors that allow rodents to leave the structure and prevents them from re-entering. Rodent-proofing can include addressing gaps in foundations, venting, and utility lines. In high-attractant locations, further rodent-proofing steps can be taken inside of buildings to reduce human-rodent conflict. For example, in a feed store this may involve keeping feed in rodent-proof containers. If lethal management is justified, it is conducted through the use of high quality snap traps enclosed in containers to exclude non-target species. The company says that their poison-free approach is scale-able and adaptable to a variety of settings, ranging from households to large institutions. For example, Humane Solutions reports successfully working with Langara College to become rodenticide-free in their operations.[xxiii]

Ultimately, the best long-term approach for addressing human-rodent conflicts is exclusion and preventative measures. This includes removing attractants, such as open garbage, compost bins, fallen fruit or bird seed, and leaking plumbing. It also involves fixing and rodent-proofing structural flaws and access points in buildings, as these provide sources of shelter for rodents. Habitat modification and sanitation, such as cutting back dense vegetation and tall grass from along the perimeter of buildings and storing firewood and other materials away from buildings and off the ground, can also reduce the presence of rodents by making the immediate environment around a location less desirable to them. [xxiv] [xxv]

Conclusion & Recommendations

The humane treatment of animals is a central value of Canadian society and it’s crucial that this value be reflected in the many ways we as a society interact with animals, ranging from those we label as “pets” and others we label as “pests”. Regardless of the labels assigned to them, commensal rodents share the same capacity to suffer as other vertebrates and therefore the same humaneness considerations should apply in how they are managed.[xxvi] Likewise, the continued use of poisons threatens the balance of our ecosystem with raptors and owls suffering significant losses in B.C. each year.

The VHS suggests that the continued use of rodenticides presents significant animal welfare, conservation and environmental concerns. The growing body of data and public awareness around the issues associated with rodenticides, along with the expansion of humane alternative approaches and products requires that more be done to urgently move away from these indiscriminate and inhumane poisons.

Specifically, the VHS recommends a comprehensive and permanent rodenticide ban, including first and second generation anticoagulants and non-anticoagulant rodenticides. It’s also recommended that the lengthy list of current exemptions under the temporary ban, which is based on the Covid-19 essential services list, be re-evaluated for appropriateness and applicability to the issue of rodenticides. It’s also crucial that government prioritize enforcement of the current temporary ban. Ultimately, the VHS believes that the issues surrounding compliance with IPM practices and the current ban reflect the difficulty in enforcing a partial rodenticide ban. The VHS recommends that the remainder of the temporary ban timeframe be spent prioritizing research around innovating and sustainable alternatives and planning a transition away from rodenticides, in favour of approaches that address the underlying causes of human-rodent conflict.

The recommendations outlined in this submission are supported by 2582 B.C. residents that have signed on to a statement which asks the provincial government to implement these recommendations.[xxvii]

References


[i] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/publications-guides/pesticide-use-surveys

[ii]http://www.barnowlsbc.ca/uploads/3/0/2/7/30276721/rats_what_triggers_us_to_control_for_rodents_rodenticide_user_survey_in_british_columbia_canada_hindmarch_et_al._2018.pdf

[iii]http://www.barnowlsbc.ca/uploads/3/0/2/7/30276721/rats_what_triggers_us_to_control_for_rodents_rodenticide_user_survey_in_british_columbia_canada_hindmarch_et_al._2018.pdf

[iv]http://www.barnowlsbc.ca/uploads/3/0/2/7/30276721/rats_what_triggers_us_to_control_for_rodents_rodenticide_user_survey_in_british_columbia_canada_hindmarch_et_al._2018.pdf

[v] https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/south-surrey-resident-sounds-alarm-after-neighbourhood-owl-dies-from-eating-rat-poison/

[vi]http://www.barnowlsbc.ca/uploads/3/0/2/7/30276721/rats_what_triggers_us_to_control_for_rodents_rodenticide_user_survey_in_british_columbia_canada_hindmarch_et_al._2018.pdf

[vii] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25965004/

[viii] https://www.epa.gov/rodenticides/restrictions-rodenticide-products

[ix] https://thetyee.ca/News/2010/12/13/BarnOwls/

[x] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311932.2018.1525147

[xi] http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.html

[xii] https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/treating-bromethalin-toxicosis

[xiii] https://animalkind.ca/wp-content/uploads/AnimalKind-Wildlife-Control-Standards.pdf

[xiv] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/legislation-consultation/rodenticide-ban#essential_services

[xv] https://www.saanichnews.com/news/saanich-owl-advocate-calls-for-permanent-rodenticide-ban-after-collecting-another-dead-bird/

[xvi] https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/604_2004#section81

[xvii] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/legislation-consultation/rodenticide-ban#user_resources

[xviii] https://spca.bc.ca/ways-to-help/take-action/safe-from-poison/

[xix] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAKUdiaeJ4s&t=1435s

[xx] https://canadianraptorconservancy.com/barn-owls/

[xxi] https://open.library.ubc.ca/soa/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/24/items/1.0401883

[xxii] https://drive.google.com/file/d/15ZnK6b9INxAiZAXyKdEk-53BSu7oDQSH/view

[xxiii] Personal communication with Humane Solutions, 2021.

[xxiv] https://drive.google.com/file/d/15ZnK6b9INxAiZAXyKdEk-53BSu7oDQSH/view

[xxv] https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/pesticides-pest-management/managing-pests/animals/rodents#prevent

[xxvi] https://animalkind.ca/wp-content/uploads/AnimalKind-Wildlife-Control-Standards.pdf

[xxvii] https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/posts/rodenticide-ban/

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News/Blog

Take action: Identify & report the use of banned rodenticides

Effective July 2021, the B.C. government enacted a temporary, partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). These poisons have been used widely in rodent control and they cause significant suffering for wildlife and pets.

You can help protect animals from these banned poisons by being on the look out for them in your community and reporting them to provincial authorities and to VHS, so we can keep track of the presence of banned poisons throughout communities.

Learn more below about how to identify and report banned rodenticides. Visit this page to call for further action from the provincial government.

How to report banned rodent poisons in B.C.

Effective July 2021, the B.C. government enacted a temporary, partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). These poisons have been us…

Which rodenticides are banned?

The ban applies to the following second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs):

  • Brodifacoum
  • Bromadiolone
  • Difethialone

Under the ban, these poisons are now prohibited in or around most residential buildings, offices, parks, schools, and non-food retail shops.

There are exemptions that allow for SGARs to continue being used in certain locations that are deemed to be “essential services”. For a complete list of exemptions, visit the B.C. government’s website.

Tips for documenting banned rodenticides

Be on the lookout for bait boxes, often found around the outside perimeter of buildings, as well as inside of buildings. If the bait box contains a rodenticide, a label identifying the active ingredient or its registration number, along with the contact information for the pest control company, should be on the outside of the container lid.

Note: The presence of a bait box does not necessarily mean SGAR poisons are being used, as bait boxes may contain snap traps or other products.

If the active ingredient noted on the label is brodifacoum, bromadiolone, or difethialone and the bait box is not in a location that is exempt from the ban, please document the following in order to file a report: (Note – Do not tamper with bait boxes.)

  • Photos of the outside of the bait box;
  • Photos of the label on the bait box;
  • Photos of the surrounding location;
  • Note the date, time and address.

How you can report banned rodenticides

STEP 1: Report the suspected banned poison to the B.C. government via the “Report All Poachers and Polluters” (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277, or through the online reporting form.

STEP 2: Submit a report, using the form below, for VHS’s prohibited rodent poison tracking project.

STEP 3: Upload photos (see section below form) to go with your report for VHS’s tracking project.

Click or drag files to this area to upload. You can upload up to 5 files.
Categories
Opinion Editorial

Discovery of dead wildlife demands further action on rodent poisons

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

Take action

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.!

Earlier this year, wildlife protection advocates in BC cautiously celebrated news of a partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Anticoagulant rodenticides cause a slow and painful death through internal bleeding for the animals that ingest them. The BC government cited the serious risks these highly toxic poisons pose to the public, pets and wildlife, and specifically banned – with many exemptions – types of poisons that are more potent to rats and wildlife alike.

As reports of dead and dying wildlife from suspected rodenticide poisoning have circulated in news headlines in recent years, the issue has gained much-needed attention and calls for a rodenticide ban have grown.

While the government’s announcement was a welcome first step, it has become increasingly evident that much more needs to be done to effectively address the widespread use of all inhumane and indiscriminate poisons, both first- and second-generation. The ban itself is incomplete, leaving a wide range of exemptions wherein second-generation poisons can continue to be used. It also leaves out other cruel and dangerous rodenticides, such as first-generation and non-anticoagulants.

Gaps in government ban leave wildlife at risk

First-generation rodenticides are called this because they have been used for many years and have begun to lose their effectiveness on rodents, while still having a negative impact if another animal eats a poisoned rat or mouse. This is called secondary poisoning. For example, two common first-generation anticoagulants, diphacinone and chlorophacinone, pose a high risk for secondary poisoning of wild mammals, cats and dogs. Veterinarians have also raised concerns about bromethalin, a neurotoxin with no specific antidote, yet its use as a rodenticide is still permitted.

At the time the partial ban was enacted, the province indicated that pest control operators would be informed about the new rules to ensure compliance. Yet, months later, the public continues to find bait boxes labeled as containing second-generation rodenticides in locations where they are prohibited, such as along the outside of residential buildings and offices.

Dead owl found outside Ministry of Environment building

Concern about the apparent lack of enforcement and compliance surrounding the ban turned to frustration when a dead great horned owl was found earlier this month near the Ministry of Environment building in Victoria. A closer look around the exterior of the building by a local wildlife protection advocate led to the discovery of rodent bait boxes with labelling that indicated they contained the poison bromadiolone – a second-generation poison in a location that would appear to be in violation of the ban. While the ministry has since responded, saying that an investigation determined that the labels on the bait boxes were incorrect and that they did not contain bromadiolone, the incident illustrates the issues surrounding the partial ban. How can the public be sure that bait boxes they encounter in their community are accurately labeled and in compliance with the partial ban?

Take action

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.!

Number of dead owls remains unchanged despite partial rodenticide ban, says local wildlife rehabilitation organization

Meanwhile, owls and other birds of prey that commonly fall victim to rodenticides continue to show up at rehabilitation centres, raising concern that the partial ban may not be leading to intended changes for animals. BC-based OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society has said that the number of owls that have died since the ban remains unchanged. A few years ago, a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in OWL’s care had poison residue in their system.

To effectively address and curtail rodenticide use, the provincial government must proactively enforce its current, partial ban on second-generation rodenticides. Additionally, as the government currently considers next steps regarding this issue, it is crucial that the lengthy list of exemptions be revisited and that the government ultimately phase out all types of rodenticides, in favour of humane alternatives and preventative measures that address the root causes of human-rodent conflict.

Poison-free alternatives offer a long-term solution

Addressing attractants, such as open garbage, compost bins, fallen fruit or bird seed, and fixing structural flaws and access points in buildings that provide sources of food and shelter for rodents is central to solving human-rodent conflicts. Meanwhile, a variety of poison-free alternatives for lethal management are available and new and innovative technologies are being tested and piloted in communities. Alternatives range from snap traps, to captive bolt traps, rodent contraceptives, and owl boxes that support the presence of natural predators – a family of owls can consume more than 1,000 rodents per year!

As awareness has grown surrounding the threats rodenticides pose and the suffering they cause, we can and must do better.

Take action

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.!

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News/Blog

City of Vancouver unanimously passes motion to shift 20% of animal-based purchasing to plant-based, citing VHS report

UPDATE: The below report led to a motion put forward to Vancouver City Council. Many supporters wrote in to support this motion and it made an impact: The motion was passed unanimously by Vancouver City Council! Thank you to everyone who wrote in and to the speakers, Asha Wheeldon (owner of Kula Kitchen), Eleanor Boyle (author of High Steaks: Why and How to Eat Less Meat), and Ryan McKee (founder of Elemeno), who shared their unique perspectives on this topic.


VHS recently launched a new report, “Increasing Plant-Based Purchasing at the Municipal Level”, which examines food purchasing for the City of Vancouver. The report reviews the impact of a shift in municipal food purchasing that reduces the volume of animal-based foods by 20%, to be replaced with plant-based alternatives.

It concludes that by replacing 20% of animal-based food products with plant-based alternatives, the City of Vancouver could expect to:

  • save up to $99,000
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 500 tonnes
  • save the equivalent of nearly 400 farmed animal lives on annual basis

VHS is distributing this report amongst municipal decision-makers at the City of Vancouver and will be highlighting opportunities for its implementation.

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News/Blog

Support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.

Rodenticides are highly toxic poisons that cause a slow and painful death for the rodents that consume them and can severely injure or kill any scavengers, predators or pets who encounter the poisoned rodents. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.

Effective July 21, 2021, the B.C. government enacted an 18-month partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), citing the serious risk they pose to the public, pets and wildlife. This means SGARs cannot be used in or around most residential buildings, offices, parks, schools, or non-food retail shops. Unfortunately, gaps in the ban and an apparent lack of enforcement continue to leave wildlife at risk.

VHS welcomes this 18-month SGAR ban as a first step and is calling on the B.C. government to take further action to address rodenticide use across the province.

Add your signature in support of VHS’s letter to the Ministry of Environment

Add your signature below in support of VHS’s request that the B.C. Ministry of Environment take additional action to ban rodenticides. VHS has delivered a letter outlining our recommendations and we will keep Ministry decision-makers updated on the total number of public signatures in support of the campaign.

*The petition form will only accept Canadian postal codes. If you reside outside of Canada, you can send a message directly to B.C.’s Environment Minister, George Heyman, at ENV.minister@gov.bc.ca

Learn more about the temporary partial ban

Details of SGAR ban

The SGAR ban is specific to poisonous baits containing brodifacoum, bromadiolone or difethialone. Use of SGARs is now prohibited, but with a long list of exemptions for what the government has deemed to be essential services, as well as agricultural operators.

Essential services are categorized as public health and safety; critical infrastructure; food supply; transportation; sanitation; communications and information technology; and mortuary services. For specific business types that qualify as exempt from the ban, visit the B.C. government website.

Given the list of exemptions, including in locations where there is a lot of active wildlife such as at a garbage dump or recycling facility, it remains to be seen how effective this ban will be at significantly reducing the widespread use of SGARs and their negative impacts.

While the use of SGARs for non-essential services is prohibited, the ban does not prohibit other dangerous rodenticides from being used. This includes first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs), such as chlorophacinone, diphacinone, and warfarin, and neurotoxins, such as bromethalin. These rodenticides pose a similar threat to the public, pets and wildlife.

What’s next?

VHS is advocating for the B.C. government to ban all rodenticides and to reassess and shorten the list of exempt users. VHS recommends that the remainder of the 18-month temporary SGAR ban be used to plan the phase out of rodenticides, in favour of humane alternatives for lethal management and preventative measures that address the underlying causes of conflict with rodents. VHS encourages the B.C. government to prioritize and invest in research around new and emerging humane alternatives and set goals and targets for shifting away from rodenticide use overall.

It’s also crucial that the government proactively enforce the current SGAR ban to ensure prohibited rodenticides are removed in a timely manner from locations where they are no longer permitted. The government must also take steps to educate the public about these restrictions and how to identify what is in bait boxes. 

VHS submitted a letter to provincial decision-makers, outlining recommendations for a comprehensive rodenticide ban.

More actions you can take

Spread the word about the current ban

Help raise awareness within the community about the current SGAR poisons ban!

Share this link to the B.C. government’s website, outlining the details of the ban. Send it to your strata or building manager, the principal and other school administrators at your school, the building manager at your office, and anyone else who should be made aware of the ban.

Support citizen science projects related to rodenticides:

Identify and report the use of banned rodenticides

Take action to report banned rodenticides being used in your community.

Report dead wild birds

  • Report wild bird deaths to the B.C. government’s wild bird mortality hotline at 1-866-431-BIRD (2473). Click here for more information.
  • Support citizen science being done to track wild bird deaths by contacting Deanna Pfeifer at dgpfeifer@shaw.ca. Please take photos or videos of the deceased bird and note the date and location. Follow the steps outlined here to safely handle and store the bird.

Find humane alternatives

There are many humane and sustainable alternatives for managing conflicts with rodents which do not cause prolonged suffering or harm natural predators of rodents.

For the most effective solution, focus on prevention. Addressing attractants, such as open garbage, compost bins, fallen fruit or bird seed, and fixing structural flaws and access points in buildings that provide sources of food and shelter for rodents is central to solving human-rodent conflicts.

Meanwhile, a variety of poison-free alternatives and new and innovative technologies are being tested and piloted in communities, including rodent contraceptives. If lethal management is still needed, high-quality snap traps and captive bolt traps that are appropriately sized for the type of rodent can cause a quick death.

Learn more about humane rodent management.

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News/Blog

Support a ban on cruel wildlife poisons

Show your support for banning inhumane and indiscriminate wildlife poisons

UPDATE – July 21, 2021

Following a meeting between VHS, other animal advocacy groups, and B.C. decision-makers, the provincial government has announced a temporary restriction on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides—the most toxic type of rodent poisons.

During the 18-month restriction, the government will conduct a review of alternative rodent control methods. Thank you for advocating to protect B.C. wildlife!

Here is how you can continue to support a ban on rodenticides in B.C.:

1.      If you have not yet signed, add your name to the pledge below. VHS will continue to highlight the widespread support for a ban on rodenticides in meetings with the provincial government.

2.      Double your impact by sharing this page with your friends and family!

3.      Make a donation to VHS so we can continue this vital animal advocacy work. All donations will support VHS’s work building a kinder world for animals.

Original post:

Wildlife poisons have become a growing animal welfare, environmental and public safety concern in recent years. The baited poisons, used to address conflicts with unwanted wildlife, cause a slow and painful death for the animals that consume them. They also have a wider ecosystem impact and can contribute to secondary or non-target poisoning of countless other animals, including birds of prey, scavengers and even domestic pets.

Every year, stories of poisoned wildlife and domestic animals make news headlines, and those stories are just a small glimpse of a much more widespread problem. In fact, B.C.-based Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL) noted that a few years ago a blood test study found that more than half of the animals in their care had poison residue in their system.

Growing public awareness surrounding this issue has led to increased calls for a ban of these poisons. A recent federal House of Commons e-petition is calling on the Canadian government to ban three common poisons used to control predators. In B.C., close to 20 municipalities have passed motions to address rodent poisons on municipal property and the provincial government is being encouraged to ban rodenticides across B.C.

Take Action

1. Join VHS, other organizations, and advocates in calling on the B.C. government and municipalities to ban rodenticides. Take the pledge below to show your support! For more information about this issue please see the rodenticide fact sheet and shared briefing note.

2. The official federal House of Commons e-petition is calling for a ban on three common predator poisons (strychnine, compound 1080, and sodium cyanide). The e-petition is now closed. Stay tuned for updates!

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Opinion Editorial

The Calgary Stampede should drop inhumane rodeo events

Article originally published on Daily Hive.

There are few good things to come out of COVID-19 but the cancellation of the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races is one of them.

For the second year in a row, the event has been called off because of the pandemic, sparing horses from the annual death trap that has killed more than 70 horses since 1986. Six horses died in the race in 2019, the last time it was run.

However, the Stampede’s rodeo is going ahead, leaving calves, steers, bulls and horses subject to the abusive treatment its supporters call a “sport.”

One of the most controversial events is calf roping. The rodeo industry changed the name to “tie-down roping” – a public relations move designed to make the event seem more ethically palatable. And no wonder. Chasing three-month-old animals across an arena, roping them by the neck to a sudden halt and throwing them to the ground before tying them up can’t be easy to market as family entertainment.

Yet, even though polling shows 59 per cent of Canadians are opposed to rodeos, the industry has maintained a big enough fan base to keep going. It does so by perpetuating myths about rodeo heritage and tradition, selling events like calf roping as examples of genuine ranch practice.  In fact, rodeo calf roping is a perversion of what happens on ranches. Real calf roping is done as gently as possible, as the whole point is to avoid injury and stress to the animal. The rodeo version is done under time pressure, with big prize money for the competitor who ropes and ties the calf in the fastest time.

Anyone looking at close-up photos of rodeo calves being roped can see that they are terrified and stressed, with tongues protruding and eyes bulging. While it seems obvious that chasing, roping and tying animals up would cause them stress, rodeo promoters have relied on a lack of scientific proof to maintain the pretense that the calves don’t suffer. That may be about to change.

Two studies out of Australia (where rodeo is popular) provide evidence to support the common-sense argument that calf roping is inhumane. One study found increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in calves after they had been roped, concluding that “the roping event in rodeos is stressful.” The second study had veterinarians and cattle-handling experts examine images of calves before and after being roped during a rodeo event. The results were clear: “These findings indicate that calves in roping events experience several negative emotions, which raise serious concerns as to the continuation of these events on welfare grounds.”

Sadly, such research is lacking on other events such as steer wrestling and bull riding, yet any objective observer would find the suffering they cause self-evident. Steer wrestlers literally twist the animal’s neck until he is forced to the ground. Steers have had their necks broken in the event. It’s preposterous to suggest such treatment doesn’t cause pain and suffering.

In bull riding, the bull has an unwanted rider on his back, spurs raking his sides and a “flank strap” tied around his hindquarters – all causing the bull to buck wildly. He wouldn’t do so otherwise. Does anyone seriously believe the bull doesn’t find this stressful?

Do we really need scientific studies to prove these events are cruel? If someone tried to introduce dog roping as a sport would we wait for the science to prove that it would be inhumane? No, any decent human being would oppose such obvious cruelty without hesitation. Are rodeo animals not as deserving of our objective reason and compassion?

The Calgary Stampede needs to recognise that using animals for entertainment is becoming socially unacceptable. Ringling Bros. Circus (“The Greatest Show on Earth”) closed down in 2017; the display of captive whales and dolphins has been banned; a majority of Canadians already oppose rodeos. Will the Stampede (“The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”) face reality, end its dependence on exploiting animals, and start providing entertainment that all Canadians can enjoy and be proud of? If not, it will likely suffer the same fate as Ringling Bros. – a once celebrated cultural icon reduced to a shameful relic of the past.

Categories
News/Blog

Tell the B.C. government to take action to help sled dogs

Sled dogs continue to suffer due to outdated industry rules

Join us in calling on the B.C. government to update the “Sled Dog Standards of Care” regulation.

A photo from Spirit of the North Kennels, taken by a concerned citizen.

More than 10 years after the infamous 2010 killing of 56 sled dogs in Whistler, sled dogs are still suffering in British Columbia.

A W5 investigation, “Dogs in Distress”, exposes the commercial sled dog industry in Canada, highlighting evidence of dogs chained outdoors for prolonged periods; repetitive pacing behaviour; and inhumane forms of euthanasia.

In February 2021, the BC SPCA seized 40 dogs in distress from Spirit of the North Kennels, a West Kootenay sled dog operator, citing concerns including inadequate shelter, hypothermia, suspected dehydration and stereotypic behaviour by the dogs, which is a purposeless repetitive action indicating extreme boredom and frustration.

Meanwhile, video taken by people concerned for the well-being of the dogs and provided to VHS allegedly shows dogs at another sled dog facility, Blackcomb Dogsled in Whistler, being held in cages and on tethers in a barren yard.

The dogs appear to be showing stereotypic behaviour and can be seen pacing back and forth in cages and repeatedly running in circles around the posts they are tethered to.  

Undercover video shows dogs chained, pacing at Whistler sled dog kennel

TAKE ACTION: https://vancouverhumanesociety.bc.ca/?p=21394More than 10 years after the infamous 2010 killing of 56 sled dogs in Whistler, sled dogs are still…

No dog should have to live like this. B.C.’s Sled Dog Standards of Care Regulation, introduced after the deaths of the 56 sled dogs in Whistler, still allows dogs to be tethered for more than 23 hours a day. The standards also allow sled dog tour companies in B.C. to shoot surplus sled dogs, provided the operator has “made reasonable efforts to rehome the sled dog, but those efforts have been unsuccessful” and the operator follows certain guidelines. 

The provincial government needs to update the regulation to, at the very least, conform to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s 2018 Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, which states that “Tethering of dogs (i.e., chains or ropes used to tie the dog to an immoveable object such as a stake or building) is not allowable as a method of confining a dog to a primary enclosure, nor as the only means of containment.”   

The Kennel Code also requires that: “Dogs are housed in such a way as to allow them to display natural behaviours, to socialize with or without other species of animals and humans, as appropriate, and to protect public safety.” 

If the B.C. regulation conformed to these requirements of the Kennel Code it would put an end to the tethering of sled dogs by tour companies. 

Please use our simple email tool below to send a message to B.C. Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, who is responsible for the Sled Dog Standards of Care RegulationYou can also sign the pledge not to take part in sled dog tours.

Learn more about the sled dog tourism industry.