Podcast: How can you help wildlife?

What can we do to help wildlife?

There are many ways that human activities, infrastructure, and policies impact wild animals. On this month’s episode of The Informed Animal Ally, the Vancouver Humane Society’s Amy Morris and Chantelle Archambault discuss the ways in which animal allies can speak up for wildlife.

Note: This written discussion has been edited for length.

Compassionate conservation

Chantelle: Last month we talked about farmed animals and went through their natural behaviours species by species. This month will be a little different, since we’re talking about wildlife and there are so many species.

Amy: Before we get into it, I want to touch on an important piece of background for this discussion. Conservation is a topic that comes up a lot when people talk about wild animals, but it’s often about preserving the species and maintaining biodiversity, without looking at the well-being of individual animals. The lens we’ll be using today is compassionate conservation, which includes the guiding principles:

  • First, do no harm
  • Individuals matter
  • Inclusivity
  • Peaceful coexistence between animals and humans

Throughout this episode we’ll be talking about ways you can help protect wild animals from the threats they face, and it’s important to bear in mind through all these advocacy actions that the goal is to treat wildlife with respect, justice, and compassion, and to allow them to thrive. There is a great infographic on this.

Urban wildlife

Chantelle: Absolutely, thanks so much Amy. Now that we’ve covered that, I think it makes sense to start with a brief overview of some of the ways humans interact with wild animals. When we think of most people’s day-to-day interactions with wild animals, many people living in cities, towns, or suburbs will think about urban wildlife. Urban wildlife refers to animals who have adapted to survive alongside humans and the infrastructure we’ve developed. Those adaptations can include taking advantage of new food sources, like garbage or some types of plants, or building their nests in human-made structures.

Amy: Urban wildlife may show signs of being habituated, or unafraid of, people. This happens over time as they encounter situations that feel safer and safer; alternately, they find ways to navigate in the human world that avoids people entirely. Just like with humans, wild animals will be afraid of what they don’t know, and comfortable with anything that feels familiar and safe.

Some urban wildlife are considered synanthropic species, which means they thrive in human environments. Think of adaptations like pigeons nesting in buildings and eating dropped food, squirrels living in trees from parks and gardens, rats commonly living in sewers or buildings. Some people consider these species to be “pests” because living in such close proximity can lead to human-wildlife conflict.

Other urban wildlife often live alongside humans in urban environments, but they aren’t as dependent on human activities to survive. If you think of an animal like coyotes, they’re generally considered an opportunistic species so they can exploit the resources in human environments like eating small animals, fruits and vegetables, or garbage; but they can also survive in a more natural landscape. They’re also typically more wary of humans.

Threats to urban wildlife

Chantelle: That brings us to talking about some of the threats urban wildlife can face. You mentioned human-wildlife conflict and that’s something that can have a very negative impact on animals. Generally, conflict arises when animals are causing damage like chewing walls, making messes like knocking over garbage bins, or if they’re posing a threat or perceived threat to human or pet safety, such as skunks nesting below a shed and the people who live in the home being afraid of their dog being sprayed. In those situations, the outcome for the animal is usually very negative or even deadly. Often animals are killed—two issues that have been really top of mind over the past year are rodent poisons and culls.

Amy: I can speak more to the poison issue. Rodenticides, or rodent poisons cause a great deal of suffering to animals. There are a few different categories of poisons which we spoke about in our wildlife episode with Erin Ryan last year, so please listen to that episode if you’d like more details.

Essentially, poisons don’t work immediately and cause animals to die slowly and painfully. Anticoagulant rodenticides work by thinning the blood so animals die by bleeding out or hemorrhaging. Those are the poisons most often used in Canada.

There are also other poisons like neurotoxins, which cause the nervous system to shut down so animals can experience symptoms painful and scary symptoms like weakness, loss of coordination, convulsions, and respiratory distress.

We’ve had some progress here in B.C. with permanent restrictions on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), which are some of the most dangerous poisons and also some of the most likely to cause secondary poisoning to predator or scavenger animals, like owls or eagles, who eat poisoned rodents; but there are still exceptions where those poisons can be used.

First-generation anticoagulants and other poisons are also still allowed.

Chantelle: Several municipalities have taken the compassionate step of banning all rodenticides on the city or town property. A great way to advocate for animals harmed by poisons is to ask your Council or the building manager where you live or work to commit to poison-free methods.

There are also government sanctioned culls of animals. The Vancouver Park Board recently approved a plan that includes the option of killing geese to control their populations, which is inhumane and unnecessary. Evidence shows that habitat modification is a more effective long-term method. There was also the coyote cull in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2021 that happened after people reported coyotes approaching and biting them. In total, 13 coyotes were killed. This could have been prevented if better methods were implemented to prevent the feeding of animals in the park and remove attractants like garbage that draw coyotes toward human areas.

How you can help urban wildlife

Amy: Prevention is the best and most effective method of dealing with conflict with wildlife. You can prevent animals like rodents from entering buildings by sealing up access points and removing or sealing away food and other attractants.

The most important thing we can do is to make sure wildlife continue to be afraid of anything that might hurt them. This is why it is so crucial to not feed wildlife. If you feed wildlife, they start to see people as a source of food. They also can become dependent on the food being provided and then if it is removed, they can become aggressive. We would do the same if we were fed regularly and then suddenly all the food was gone, with nothing available to us… I have been around some pretty “hangry” people and I imagine it can get pretty bad when an animal feels truly desperate from their hunger.

Chantelle: Absolutely. Another way people deal with wildlife conflict is by trapping and relocating animals. This method still isn’t perfect because it causes stress to animals and can introduce new risks to animals if their social structures are disrupted, if they come into conflict over territory or if they have difficulty finding resources in their new environment.

Amy: Other threats that are more common for urban wildlife include animals being hit by vehicles, urban development infringing on their habitats and resources, and noise and light pollution which can disrupt their natural behaviours and communication.

Native wildlife

Threats to native wildlife in British Columbia and beyond

Amy: Wild animals, including those outside cities are also impacted by climate change which can affect their habitat, temperature regulation, resources like food and water, and behaviours like migration patterns.

Chantelle: One thing that a lot of Canada has been dealing with is forest fires. Temperatures are rising and precipitation patterns are changing, which means we’re seeing an increase in both fire-prone conditions and flooding at different times and in different areas. Forest fires and floods directly cause the deaths of animals who are caught in them. They also destroy habitats and displace animals, making it more difficult for them to survive and maintain their social dynamics.

Amy: Speaking of habitat destruction, there is natural habitat destruction, and there is also human-caused destruction of habitats like deforestation.

Logging is a major industry here in B.C. Although some considerations are in place for a few protected species, many animals like squirrels and birds end up losing their homes.

Logging roads that haven’t been decommissioned after use also make prey animals more vulnerable to predators.

Particularly, caribou have been significantly affected by the destruction of forests and the creation of logging roads because it provides wolves easier access to the caribou, leading to declines in caribou populations. Rather than addressing the root issue, which is habitat destruction, the B.C. government has been carrying out a wolf cull since 2015 that involves shooting wolves from helicopters. So now we have a situation where both caribou and wolves are suffering.

We know that both caribou and wolves have complex dynamics, including unique family structures. When wolves are killed it impacts their entire family. Just like humans, they have the ability to feel loss and must grieve these sudden deaths as they struggle to survive.

How you can help native wildlife

Amy: To be an active ally for the caribou and the wolves, you can:

  • Advocate for stronger wildlife protection laws, including the decommissioning of forestry roads and better forest restoration management
  • Share about the importance of compassionate conservation, recognizing that well-being isn’t just about biodiversity, but about the well-being of the individual animal and their communities.
  • Avoid having fires during fire bans, and carefully dispose of any cigarettes and be careful in the backcountry using machinery that causes sparks


Chantelle: We can’t talk about wildlife behaviour without talking about the ocean’s most populous wildlife – fishes! You can check out our podcast just about fishes, but there are a few key points I’d like to touch on here. Fishes demonstrate many different behaviours, the same way that species on land do. Some live in schools, but others are solitary. There are even some interspecies friendships of fishes that are mutually beneficial. Fishes, just like mammals, end up having lice and benefit from grooming. Some fish travel long distances, while others exist in small habitats and focus on protecting their homes. There are more than 33,000 different types of fish species.

Threats to fishes

Amy: Some of the threats faced by fishes include fish farms, where diseases from captive fish populations can get into wild species. Fish farms are often densely packed, which don’t allow fish to swim and forage the way they would naturally.

Fishes are also threatened by pollution. While the physical pollution is a problem, such as plastics, some of the biggest harms include the waste product that runs off of intensive agriculture, such as keeping cows and pigs. This can cause harmful algae blooms in the water, which is often called ‘red tide’ for the different tone it gives the water. In areas with red tide, fish are poisoned and die. Animals like turkey vultures can be impacted as well as they eat the fish that have died from the harmful algae blooms.

How you can help fishes

Chantelle: The best and biggest impact that we as individuals can make is to take fishes and other animals off our plates. Consumption of animals for food is driving these complex issues that are causing significant physical suffering to both individual fishes and entire species.

Wild and exotic animals kept in captivity

Amy: The behaviour of animals that are kept in captivity varies from enriched and engaged, to, most commonly, bored and repetitive. Just like we seek out ways for indoor cats to have full enjoyment of their spaces, including building catios and providing different toys, treats, and play, wild animals need access to spaces and activities that make their lives worthwhile.

While the best thing is for wild animals to be free, sometimes they end up in captivity and don’t have the skills or capacity to care for themselves in the wild. Unfortunately, facilities that house wildlife in captivity often lack the staffing and capital resources to provide spaces for animals that ensure their needs are met. For example, some animals are not provided the opportunity to hide from public view, or the temperatures in their outdoor enclosure are too cold for their normal body temperature. Incidents regularly occur of people getting bitten, or animals becoming depressed and dying at ages far younger than their wild counterparts.

If you have observed animals in captivity, you know it can be a strange experience. Seeing the animals themselves can provide a sense of beauty, but juxtaposed against barren enclosures, cages, and pacing, bar licking, and other maladaptive behaviours, these spaces can feel downright uncomfortable. I once visited a facility where the bears were made to perform; that facility is still running today. Last year, when a bear died after 19 years of performing, the facility claimed that the bear loved making people laugh and was happiest in front of a crowd. It is common for facilities to anthropomorphize wild animal behaviours in order to make people feel at ease and buy into the experience they are seeking.

Chantelle: It’s so sad to think about and it’s easy for people to forget, because usually visitors to places like this will only be seeing the animal for a few minutes but this is the animal’s entire life day in and day out. I find it wild that animals are still being kept for use in entertainment, particularly the film and tv industry! I would have thought that would be phased out with the amazing technology we have. There have been a few really major films that came out recently where animals played a large role but thankfully they were all computer generated. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case and animals kept for performing are often kept in small cages and deal with frequent travel. Their lives are akin to that of research animals in terms of the degree of confinement, but even more stressful because their environment is constantly changing and they are around unfamiliar people.

Mobile exotic animal petting zoos are similar. The animals have to deal with frequent transportation, being kept in small cages, and being handled. Despite the risks around salmonella, reptiles are a popular choice for this because they are slow to get away. However, for them, it can be quite uncomfortable to be handled. Not only might it be uncomfortable, but it’s also very important for reptiles to regulate their own temperature; and the conditions they are kept and handled in do not allow them to do that.

Amy: While we know that it isn’t ideal to keep animals in captivity, the solutions are complicated. Zoos and aquariums try to argue in favour of letting animals breed as a way to exhibit natural behaviours, but then the off-spring often die or are forced into a life of captivity. Since such a sparse patchwork of laws exists for animals in captivity, their ability to express natural behaviours outside of breeding is equally sparse. Laws around wildlife in captivity are made at the provincial and local level. Advocating for these beautiful animals can include asking the provincial government to better protect them through limiting captive breeding, putting an end to using wild animals for any kind of entertainment, and asking the federal government to put very strict limitations on the importation of exotic wildlife.

Chantelle: Yeah, that’s an interesting argument because it feels very convenient that zoos will argue in favour of animals expressing their natural behaviours when it’s about breeding, which is something that allows them to draw in more people to see the new animals and keep making money, but not when it’s about moving the animals to a climate that’s more appropriate for them. It’s very important to look at those arguments critically and see how they’re being used to maintain the status quo and make more money rather than do what’s best for the long-term well-being of the animals.

How to help wildlife

Amy: We typically end these episodes on the question of what you can do in your own advocacy work to help animals. We’ve certainly touched on a lot of actions throughout the episode, but here are some of the biggest takeaways.

  • Help wild animals stay wild by not feeding them
  • When law changes around wild animals come up, speak with your representatives like your MP or your MLA about compassionate conservation and the importance of considering individual animals’ well-being
  • Support and share ways of learning about animals that don’t involve keeping wild animals in captivity

Next episode

Please join us next month as we discuss the Vancouver Humane Society’s findings on the attitudes and benefits around plant-based eating!

Media Release

Panago Pizza selling plant-based pizzas to benefit two animal charities in B.C.

Panago Pizza team members deliver plant-based pizzas to the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary.

VANCOUVER, November 25, 2022 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) and the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary are teaming up to help animals now and in the future with the generous support of Panago Pizza! On Giving Tuesday, November 29th, customers can get a $10 large plant-based pizza from any Panago location in BC using code: PLANT10. $1 from every plant-based pizza purchased will be donated toward the two charities.

Panago offers 5 plant-based pizza recipes and continues to grow their plant-based choices as part of their long-term commitment to sustainability. Visit to learn more.

This year, the support of donations toward animals is needed more than ever. Nonprofits are struggling to meet the needs of the animals they help. Diane Marsh from the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary explains that costs of hay have doubled and vet visits have increased by almost 40%; they “have risen dramatically due to the fires, floods and supply chain issues.”

The Happy Herd will use funds raised this Giving Tuesday to cover essential supplies to keep the animals in their care healthy and safe; animals like Mousse, a goat whom they rescued this year at just one week old. Mousse arrived at the Happy Herd quite ill having been rejected by his mother. He has since flourished and lives his life with Linus the sheep and Pickles the pig.

Mousse the goat at the Happy Herd Farm Sanctuary in April 2022.

Funds raised will also help to cover the VHS’s essential programs and advocacy work. This includes helping to decrease the demand for industrial animal agriculture by supporting a shift toward increased plant-based options in municipal concession stands, schools, long-term care homes, and more.

Funds will also help programs such as the VHS’s McVitie Fund, which offers financial assistance for urgent veterinary care to hundreds of animals from low-income households each year, helping animals like Copper the dog to get the care they need while staying with their loving families and preventing surrenders to the already-overburdened shelter and rescue system.

Left: Copper the dog at the veterinarian; Copper needed emergency surgery to remove bladder stones in order to save his life. Right: Copper after receiving assistance through the Vancouver Humane Society’s McVitie Fund and recovering from surgery.

“The rising costs of living mean that the McVitie Fund is assisting a rapidly growing number of people every year,” said VHS Communications Director Chantelle Archambault. “More than 580 animals have already received help through the program in 2022—twice as many as in all of 2021!”

The first $6,000 in donations to support animals in need will be doubled by generous local partners. Members of the community can donate through the Vancouver Humane Society’s website at

– ends –

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903,

Related links:


British Columbia permanently restricts second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides 

A win for wildlife!

B.C. permanently restricts second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, marking an important first step in protecting wildlife and pets.

Learn more
Take action
Report prohibited poisons

B.C.’s provincial government has announced that it is moving ahead with regulatory changes that will restrict the sale and use of some of the deadliest rodent poisons. As of January 21, 2023, second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) will be prohibited, with exemptions for sectors that have been deemed ‘essential services’. 

The government’s decision follows a temporary, partial ban that has been in place since July 2021, along with a public consultation around proposed permanent changes. During this period, more than 2,500 British Columbians signed the Vancouver Humane Society’s petition in support of a comprehensive rodenticide ban. The VHS and more than 1,300 individuals participated in the public consultation; the VHS also submitted a report in support of a comprehensive rodenticide ban. 

Despite widespread feedback in support of further restrictions and a full ban, the Province announced its decision to move forward with its initially proposed changes. Concerns remain that gaps in the regulations will continue to pose a risk to animals. 

In addition to the exemptions that will allow SGARs to continue being used in many circumstances, many other dangerous poisons will still be allowed under the updated regulations, including first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs) and neurotoxins. There are also concerns that enforcement is more difficult without consistent and comprehensive regulations. 

Despite concerns, the decision to significantly restrict the use of SGARs is an important step in the right direction. The VHS and animal allies will continue to advocate for further action to protect animals from encountering these and other inhumane poisons.  

The VHS recommends that the government’s partial ban be a starting point in a much-needed move away from deadly and inhumane rodent poisons and toward humane alternatives and preventative approaches for dealing with human-rodent conflicts.  

A growing number of B.C. communities have gone above and beyond the partial ban. To date, more than 20 B.C. municipalities have banned rodenticides on municipal property, including Whistler, which recently adopted a policy to ban FGARs and SGARs.

Take action: Support going beyond the partial ban

You can help to protect wildlife and pets by encouraging your community, local businesses, strata and others to follow the lead of communities that have banned rodenticides and utilize humane alternatives. 

Use the tips and talking points below to reach out and engage with decision-makers

1. Watch for signs of poisons.

Keep an eye out for bait boxes in and around your community, which indicate a rodent management program is in use. Note: Not every bait box contains rodenticides. Bait boxes can also contain snap traps. Look for a label that indicates the bait box’s contents. 

2. Reach out to property owners or managers.

Reach out to the decision-maker in charge of the building and inquire about what rodent/”pest” control products are in use at the location.

3. Share information and alternatives.

If rodenticides (or other inhumane products like glue traps) are in use, offer to share more information and alternatives:

Rodenticides are highly toxic poisons that cause a slow and painful death for the rodents who consume them and can severely injure or kill any scavengers, predators or pets who encounter the poisoned rodents or the poisons directly. This includes anticoagulant poisons (including first-generation products) and other rodenticides, such as neurotoxins like Bromethalin.  

Effective and sustainable alternative solutions exist to address human-rodent conflicts, including high quality snap traps, captive bolt traps, and rodent contraceptives. The most effective long-term solutions include: 

- Exclusion techniques: rodent-proofing buildings and fixing structural flaws and access points; 

- Preventative measures: addressing attractants such as garbage, compost, fallen bird seed and fruit, leaky plumbing; 

- Habitat modification: making the environment around buildings less hospitable for rodents by cutting back bushes and grasses, storing items away from buildings and off of the ground. 

4. Share contact information for humane wildlife management companies.

Share contact information for humane rodent control companies (e.g. Humane Solutions) or encourage the decision-maker to speak with their current company about replacing rodenticides with humane alternative approaches. 

Suspect SGARs are being used in a prohibited location? 

If you suspect SGARs are being used in prohibited locations, report them to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service’s RAPP line via the “Report All Poachers and Polluters” (RAPP) hotline at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP) or #7277, or through the online reporting form

Some examples of prohibited and non-prohibited locations include: 

Examples of prohibited locationsExamples of exempt locations
*SGARs are not allowed here 
– Residential buildings such as apartments 
– Office buildings 
– Parks 
– Schools 
– Non-food retail shops 
*SGARs can still be used by licensed “pest control” companies here 
– Hospitals 
– Supportive housing and shelters 
– Agricultural operations 
– Grocery stores 
– Restaurants 
– Landfills and recycling facilities  

See page 12 of this PDF for the full list of exempt locations where SGARs are allowed to continue being used. If a SGAR is being used at a location not on the list, it is not in compliance with the ban. Watch the video below for tips on documenting and reporting prohibited rodenticides.  

How to report banned rodent poisons in British Columbia

The Province of British Columbia recently introduced new restrictions on the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs). To report the use of prohibited rodenticides (Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone, or Difethialone) in non-exempt locations, go to For updates on wildlife poison restrictions in B.C., visit

Media Release

Province makes permanent changes to regulations on rodent poisons, but gaps leave animals at risk

VANCOUVER, November 1, 2022 – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) applauds the Province of British Columbia’s move to address rodenticide poisoning of wildlife and pets, but raises concerns that gaps continue to leave animals at risk. The Province announced on Friday that it is moving ahead with regulatory changes around the sale and use of some of the deadliest rodent poisons.

In May 2022, about halfway through an 18-month B.C.-wide partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), the Province released an intentions paper proposing permanent restrictions.

The VHS noted that the proposed regulations, like the temporary ban, would still allow other types of rodent poisons and would permit the use of SGARs in many exempt locations, including those with frequent wildlife activity like garbage dumps. Non-target animals who eat poisoned rodents, such as owls and domestic cats, are at risk of secondary poisoning.

Following an online comment period which saw widespread support for increasing restrictions, the Province announced its decision to move forward with its initially proposed changes.

VHS Campaign Director Emily Pickett responded, “The B.C. government’s decision to significantly restrict the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides is an important step in the right direction. However, there are concerns about gaps in the regulations that were raised by the Vancouver Humane Society and many other respondents during the online comment period.”

More than 1,300 private individuals submitted responses through the B.C. government’s online consultation form, “almost all” of whom expressed support for “a total ban on use of rodenticides in B.C.” or “restriction [on their use] to the greatest extent possible”, according a government report.

The public consultation also included a response from the VHS, which reported 2,582 resident signatures supporting a comprehensive ban on all rodenticides and a significant decrease in exemptions. Another organization, Rodenticide Free BC, reported a petition signed by 4,841 British Columbians in support of a ban on all rodenticides.

In addition to concerns about exempt locations and other dangerous poisons that will still be permitted, the VHS raised red flags that the updated regulations may amount to a complicated patchwork of rules for different locations and rodenticide products, making enforcement difficult. Evidence of suspected SGAR use in prohibited locations was routinely found during the temporary ban.

“If you walk through your community, you’ll see lots of black bait boxes around. We’ve seen reports of bait boxes being mislabeled or unlabeled, so the public has no way of really knowing what’s in them,” said Pickett. “Follow-up on reported complaints was inconsistent and slow, suggesting that there aren’t enough resources allocated to effectively enforce a partial ban.”

The VHS recommends that the government’s partial ban be a starting point in a much-needed move away from deadly and inhumane rodent poisons and toward humane alternatives and preventative approaches for dealing with human-rodent conflicts.

– ends –

SOURCE Vancouver Humane Society

For more information, contact Chantelle Archambault: 604-416-2903,

Related links:


Podcast: Wildlife cruelty laws and rodent poisons

Wild animals think, feel, play, grow together, have families, and help maintain a healthy and harmonious environment; yet many human activities put wildlife at unnecessary risk of suffering.

In this month’s episode of The Informed Animal Ally’s series on animal cruelty, Wild Animal Welfare Specialist Erin Ryan from the BC SPCA joins the Vancouver Humane Society’s Amy Morris and Chantelle Archambault to discuss wildlife stewardship, feeding, poisons, and more.

Note: This written interview has been edited for length.

Wild Animal Welfare Specialist

Erin is a member of the Syilx nation and holds a BSc in applied biology and an MSc in Applied Animal Biology from the University of British Columbia. She works as a Wild Animal Welfare Specialist with the BC SPCA’s Science and Policy division, focusing on wildlife welfare, including urban wildlife and rodent control.

Wildlife and Indigenous ways of knowing

A caribou looks at the camera.

Amy: Could you share a little bit of your background working with wildlife and what drew you to this work?

Erin: I think a big influence to the work that I’m doing now is my grandfather [who was a biologist and the first indigenous MP]. Even though many people remember him as a politician, he really thought of himself as a scientist.

I remember growing up, in the forested gully of their backyard, learning all about the plants and animals that grew all around us. And of course, a lot of our approaches to how we handled wildlife encounters in that backyard are kind of what I’m advocating for people to do today.

Amy: Your family has had a really interesting history of bringing an Indigenous perspective into federal decision making. Can you share some of your learnings on the relationship between wildlife and Indigenous communities as it relates to Indigenous laws and ways of knowing?

Erin: I think the main difference that I’ve seen, looking at my world of wild animal welfare, is so many of our laws and systems are built into this perspective of wildlife management; that is our job to manage the populations and to manage the environment. Whereas the values that were instilled in me from a young age and a lot of traditional Indigenous values are more about stewardship.

If we’re good stewards of the land, good stewards of the animals, we are taking care of them, but they’re also taking care of us. There’s much more this sense of reciprocity and that we’re sharing this system together. We don’t have dominion over the animals and need to control the environment.

Amy: Yeah. That’s certainly something that I think there’s a lot of space for moving towards and having more of in the world that we live in.

I’m curious. I know there’s been some consultation from the B.C. provincial government that resulted in a bill, Bill 14. And a big part of that brings into legislation, more collaboration and acknowledgement of Indigenous communities’ role in maintaining our wild populations. So I’m curious to hear if you have any thoughts on that.

Erin: So what this bill is essentially doing is the short term amendments to the Wildlife Act. Of course, the Wildlife Act is maybe one of those canonical pieces of legislation that were originally built on a very Western perspective about how we need to manage and control animals and legislate and enforce.

At the time the Wildlife Act was initially built, our government wasn’t thinking anything towards reconciliation or towards incorporating Indigenous perspectives. And I think seeing these changes really reflects that changing relationship and seeing more of government to government work. What it kind of allows for is it gives Indigenous title and right more sovereignty, the right to govern themselves as they always have since time immemorial.

It also incorporates systems for incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing, and not just relying on traditional Western science to dictate how we approach wildlife management in the province.

Amy: I think everything that I’ve heard and learned about sustainability of wildlife is that the focus needs to be on observing, of paying attention and taking time and not making sudden decisions that could affect a whole ecosystem based on, you know, one test or one experiment. So from your perspective, how does Indigenous wildlife stewardship compare with colonial laws?

Erin: Again, I think it’s much more that perspective of stewardship versus management. So there is a lot of this inherent traditional knowledge that goes to our approaches with wildlife.

And I think even before there was a word within Western science for the One Health, One Welfare approach, that was largely how Indigenous people lived. It was knowing that the way the health of the land was interconnected to the health of the animals and to the health of the people and that we all share the system.

If one of us suffers, we all suffer. But if we take good care of each other, then we all can thrive.

“If one of us suffers, we all suffer. But if we take good care of each other, then we all can thrive.”
Erin Ryan on The Informed Animal Ally

Wildlife protection laws in Canada, British Columbia, and municipalities

A Douglas squirrel climbs a tree.

Chantelle: Backing up a little bit, we’ve been talking about colonial laws and you mentioned the Wildlife Act. When it comes to colonial laws, we have the three levels of legislation to consider: federal, provincial, and municipal. Could you give a little bit of background for our listeners on what protections are in place for wildlife at those three levels?

Erin: For sure. So at the federal level, this largely looks at species that are particularly endangered or considered at risk or perhaps part of threatened habitats. It also provides protection to animals in protected areas like national parks or national nature reserves and things like that. One of the primary pieces of federal legislation that I deal with is the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. Because it tends to be that all these migratory birds are not just present, as we know, in one locality or one province; they tend to move throughout the landscape.

At the provincial level, we see the B.C. Wildlife Act, and that helps to fill in some of the gaps of how wildlife is managed at a provincial level. So this piece of legislation and at the provincial level is where we see things like hunting and trapping regulations; we see species limits, bag limits; it defines allowable hunting regions. It also prescribes a few more pieces of legislation for things like wildlife feeding. So the B.C. Wildlife Act prohibits the feeding of dangerous wildlife like bears and wolves and cougars, but it does leave a big gap for other animals.

And this is where municipal law can come in. So although some of those bigger, broader changes aren’t necessarily jurisdiction of the municipality, it is still really important that municipal bylaws can fill in, even more, some of those gaps.

So if we take a look at wildlife feeding, municipalities have the power to say it’s a ticketable offense to feed wildlife, and that can include all types of animals, whether it’s raccoons or squirrels or geese in parks, in ways that are unhealthy and harmful. And unfortunately, even though it might feel good or catch a nice photo, we know that wildlife feeding rarely results in a good outcome and the people who suffer are the animals.

Laws around spirit bears in B.C.

A spirit bear looks at the camera from in the woods.

Amy: I was wondering, for me as a person reviewing legislation, it can be really overwhelming sometimes to think about the thousands, maybe tens of thousands of species that there are, and the way that the law tries to make different categories and rules around not just individual species, but geographic areas. And I thought if we could take a couple individual species of animals and maybe chat through. How it looks; what laws apply; and what some outcomes are for individual animals.

One that comes to mind for many people is the spirit bear, or the white variation of the black bear, and how laws have been developed to protect that bear. I’m curious what you know about that.

Erin: I have heard that there have been some changes incorporating Indigenous laws. So I know that although the province sets black bear hunting levels across different regions and different seasons, there are some Indigenous nations that have their own laws about which types of traps are appropriate, what their hunting season is. And I think what we’re seeing is those are starting to align. And there have been pushes, for example, in changes to black bear hunting limits in order to try and protect spirit bears, because we know that this is a genetic minority and something that has incredible cultural and spiritual significance to a lot of people.

Amy: And I guess some areas just no hunting can occur at all for black bears. Is that right?

Erin: Indeed. In some areas.

Laws around wolves in B.C.

A wolf lies down in a forest. Wolves have been culled in B.C. since 2015.

Amy: That’s kind of a happy story, right? Seeing change and seeing more protection.

I’m wondering if we could talk a little bit about wolves, certainly not as happy of a story.

Many people know, but just in case there are some who don’t: in B.C., there is a wolf cull that has ongoing has been ongoing since 2015, where quite a large volume of wolves are being culled. Essentially killed by helicopter and other means by the province and it’s being paid for with tax dollars. And I’m curious about if you have any knowledge around how the law has come to be, that that’s allowed. What makes it okay to kill these animals in large numbers?

Erin: I think the biggest piece is that it’s become a directive from the provincial government. So whatever restrictions have been in place can potentially change. I know there was a case taken forward. Pacific Wild actually tried to bring forward a legal case that the killing methods of shooting these wolves aerially from helicopters was against the B.C. Wildlife Act.

It is challenging because it highlights some of the really horrible methods that are actually legal. So at this point in time, the use of baiting and poisons and aerial shooting are all completely within the bounds of the law.

I think we can look at this project and definitely disagree. The science all points toward habitat disturbance being the primary factor to caribou decline, which then allows wolves to access the landscape. But in that same sense of wildlife management versus wildlife stewardship, if we’re trying to manage, we’re not going to be able to shoot our way out of this problem.

We have recent evidence showing that habitat restoration of these disturbed areas can restore the landscape and can protect caribou. And if you look at what your tax dollars are paying for, really I would prefer to see my tax dollars invested in habitat restoration.

Amy: It seems to me like that would be the case of most people.

Erin: Indeed. There’s a high percentage of British Colombians, and my mentor, Dr. Dubois did some research on this area, that 95% of British Columbians didn’t agree with killing one species to save another, even if they were endangered.

Laws around pigeons in B.C.

A pigeon stands on a concrete bench in a city block.

Amy: Wow. So maybe moving on to another species.

There are a number of animals that we share our environment with that were brought to where we live. Pigeons are one that we now consider wild because they don’t want to be handled. They don’t necessarily want to be close to us anymore, but they’re all around us, especially in city environments.

And so what are the rules around pigeons and animals like that who aren’t necessarily from our area originally? Are there laws about them?

Erin: I’m so glad you chose pigeons, because I love to talk about pigeons. They’re a particularly interesting case species. So there’s such a divide in our legislation about the way we treat these animals versus the exact context and circumstances of how they came to the environment, how they exist in the environment, their effects.

But pigeons are listed in what’s called Schedule C of the B.C. Wildlife Act. And some other animals included in there, up until recently, included crows, which are native species, brown headed cowbirds, also a native species. These two have recently been moved to Schedule B. But it also includes things like bullfrogs and nutria and feral pigs and all kinds of different animals. And you can see that none of these have quite the same story as the others.

Pigeons, for example, have followed humans to so many corners of the earth. Pigeons in North America arrived really with the first settlers and have become so integrated into the environment that even if we tried, I don’t think we could ever realistically remove pigeons from the landscape. And they’ve been here for hundreds of years.

So it seems hardly fair to be treating them the same way when they’re not having that demonstrable negative impact on the environment. Versus if we look at another Schedule C species like bullfrogs, they are surprisingly voracious predators. They will eat anything that fits into their mouth, even things like ducklings. So there is still hope that we can remove the bullfrog from the landscape. And we know that they have a negative impact on the environment. They were introduced to B.C. much more recently. And yet the same legislation applies to pigeons as it does to bullfrogs.

Amy: And so does Schedule C mean that pigeons aren’t offered the same protections as other wildlife?

Erin: Exactly. So under the Schedule C species, these animals can be killed at any time of year in any number with no limits.

Limits on animal welfare legislation

An orca jumps out of the water.

Amy: Are there limits to the welfare of that process? You know, what laws come into play when you talk about what’s humane?

Erin: The tricky part is that for so long, our legislation has been focused on cruelty and prevention of cruelty.

A lot of the protections that are in place are the bare minimum protection from cruelty. So at the federal level, animals are protected under the Criminal Code, which doesn’t allow animals to be willfully in distress. “Willful” is hard to prove, but this would be, you know, in the worst circumstances where we’ve seen people, for example, maliciously harming an animal.

Animals are also protected under the provincial Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. So this is the Act in which the BC SPCA has its enforcement powers to enforce cruelty legislation and bring those to Crown Council. Another tricky part with this one is that these acts generally exclude what’s considered “industry best practices”.

So for example, we know that with farm animals, a lot of circumstances that we see are not considered high welfare, but they are considered industry best practices. And for that reason, a lot of cruelty legislation wouldn’t apply.

How do rodenticides harm wildlife?

A barn owl sits in a fallen log. Owls are impacted by secondary poisoning from rodenticides.

Amy: I think that’s a really good transition actually into our next area. Because when we talk about provincial legislation and municipal bylaws, one topic that has recently been making headlines is the topic of rodenticides, or rodent poisons, because of the danger they pose to wild animals and pets.

There have recently been some changes to legislation around rodenticides, which we’ll get into later. But first, could you touch on why these poisons are so controversial and a hazard to wildlife?

Erin: Yeah. So a lot of the legislation and sort of the big momentum changes happening right now is regulating the use of what’s called second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs).

An anticoagulant is a poison which thins the blood. So it leads to bleeding and hemorrhaging. And usually death happens when the animals simply bleed out. So in sort of the early 1940s, 1950s, we developed what’s called first generation anticoagulants.

Over time, animals developed resistance to these products and there was sort of a lower toxicity. So it could take a few times of them ingesting this product before it would have its effect. For example, warfarin, we see a lot of resistance to this product. And for that reason, we looked towards developing second generation anticoagulants.

So these products were designed to be much more toxic so that rodents could be poisoned after just a single feeding. However, that also meant they’re much more toxic in the environment and they persist much more in the environment.

Animals experience what’s called direct poisoning or secondary poisoning.

Direct poisoning is what we see happening to the mice and rats. So they’re actually eating the poison and they’re experiencing the effects of the poison.

Secondary poisoning is when an animal like an owl, an eagle, a hawk, eats a poisoned rodent carcass. And when they eat enough of that, they themselves experience this sort of secondary toxicity as it builds up in their system. And unfortunately, they experience the same suffering and the same effects.

We’ve noticed pretty profound levels of poisoning. And that concern for wildlife is largely what has driven legislative changes right now. There are also non anticoagulant rodenticides, and these are poisons that work in all kinds of different ways. So for example, there is a neurotoxin bromethalin, which causes effects of the central nervous system. It causes respiratory distress and it’s also one of those rodenticides that has no antidote.

Rodent poison laws in British Columbia

A mouse sits on a small branch.

Chantelle: That was a really helpful background on what rodenticides are. Thank you. There’s been some changes around the laws, as you mentioned. And now there’s a partial ban on the second generation anticoagulant rodenticides. Could you give some details on what that partial ban entails?

Erin: So, as you mentioned, the ban is just a temporary order that affects only the second generation. So that means the first generation anticoagulants are still legal for use. And it means that the non anticoagulant rodenticides are also still legal for use, including these neurotoxins.

And the reason they targeted SGARs is to really tackle the angle of wildlife poisoning and to try and prevent that. So there’s a temporary Minister’s order in place. Although there are still some exemptions for essential services. And the hope is that there will be updates to the legislation when the order expires next year.

And I am hopeful for what’s coming out of the legislation. It’s really inspiring to see the Minister’s ordered last year. It’s not something I expected to see for a long, long time.

Amy: Yeah. It seems as if there’s some real awareness of the public value that other animals have. Maybe rats don’t have public value to the government and many entities, although they have value to us.

But that value in owls and other species, that there’s enough value that the government is recognizing that they’re willing to put financial resources into even developing policy. In so many cases, even if people care about something, the government doesn’t put resources into looking into it, just because they don’t have maybe the same severity of seeing the public perception as being important.

And in this case, it seems they’ve gone forward and said, yes, we do care about public perception and public experience. There are still some gaps in the legislation, but also continued reports from wildlife rescues and veterinarians where poisons are still being used and animals are still suffering.

Do any cases come to mind of confirmed or suspected rodenticide poisoning in wildlife?

Erin: I think one of the things that’s important to remember is that these poisonings often go undetected. So, for example, with wildlife rehabilitation centers, these are often not-for-profit charitable organizations that don’t have a lot of money to invest in poison testing. And this does take money and it takes time.

It can often go undetected because if an owl, for example, is experiencing secondary poisoning, even if the poison doesn’t kill them, or isn’t the obvious cause of death, it does make them more likely to be involved with things like vehicle collisions. And so when they present, it may appear that this owl was hit by a car and that’s the cause of death, not realizing that maybe what we should be looking for is also a rodenticide test.

It’s hard to know what we don’t know. And there have been a number of scientific studies showing a shockingly high percentage of carcasses that tested positive for residue. Whether or not that was the cause of death, it’s still in their system.

And certainly, the members of the public who have found poisoned wildlife have been huge in making this effort. You know, there was one report from the same area where they found more than four owls that had died by rodenticide poisoning. And those cases really speak to the public.

They know what they’re seeing is wrong and they want to take action.

Chantelle: That’s a really good point about the difficulty tracking how many animals are being poisoned by rodenticides if we’re not testing them. Because we know policy change is more attainable when it’s backed by accurate and consistent data. So that’s probably why these reports haven’t yet resulted in a comprehensive ban on all rodenticides.

And the four owls that you mentioned that were found in the same area, which were found in North Saanich, were found around an area that has several farms, where second generation anticoagulants are still allowed.

Calling for change in local elections

A gosling walks out of the lake in front of a family of geese.

Chantelle: We have the municipal elections coming up and that’s a great opportunity to advocate for more animal-friendly bylaw commitments. Would you be able to talk a little bit about what authority municipal governments have to limit the use of rodenticides or make other laws to protect wild animals like with fireworks?

Erin: So, as we discussed earlier, municipalities really have that ability to fill in gaps that are left behind by either provincial or federal legislation. For rodenticides, we’ve actually seen that municipalities have made a huge difference in motive for the province to come down with that legislation.

So I think it’s nearly 30 municipalities now have banned all rodenticides or restricted rodenticides on their municipal property. So even though they can’t ban rodenticide use completely in the city, they can say what is allowed on their property.

And that has a huge impact, because this isn’t just one building. It includes all of their operational offices. It might include community centers, sports centers, and all kinds of different venues. So it covers quite a bit of ground. And it also brings the issue of awareness to the public eye. And I think for the provincial government, it showed that municipalities were willing to work on this, that they weren’t going to get pushback if they tried move forward with this legislation.

Amy: Then I guess there’s also some good bylaws that could be put in place for preventing wildlife feeding. Now is the time to ask either candidates, or if you’re listening to this later, elected folks to consider putting a bylaw in place around wildlife feeding or about banning fireworks or fireworks with sound.

And certainly outside of B.C., there is a municipal cycle that goes on as well. So any time is a good time to ask for change. As we know, it sometimes takes quite a while to get change in place when it comes to public policy, so best to get started sooner rather than later.

So we’ve spoken pretty in depth about the current legislation and gaps. What would you say still needs to be done to protect wildlife?

Erin: You brought up an excellent point with wildlife feeding. That’s definitely an issue that’s top of mind for us as we come into municipal elections. And this is just one of many ways that they can step in and fill a gap.

Where the province regulates the feeding of dangerous wildlife like bears and coyotes, it doesn’t regulate things that the municipal level can. So for example, the City of Vancouver has one of the more comprehensive bylaws we’ve seen prohibiting wildlife feeding, and that includes all species. Previously, there was a bylaw in place for Vancouver parks, but this now applies to the entire city of Vancouver.

Amy: That’s huge.

Erin: It is huge. And the BC SPCA has some examples of model bylaws that are available on our website. We’ve just updated our new model bylaw tool so that municipalities can actually go and look at examples of bylaws that we reviewed and we believe how the animal’s best interests in mind.

Advocate for change in your local election

Amy: It certainly seems like having one municipality take action on something helps for other municipalities to follow suit. You know, have you worked on any cases where a municipality was the first to adopt something? Curious about how that happened if you have experience with that.

Erin: For sure. I think for me top of mind, when it comes to rodenticides, was the District of North Vancouver. So they weren’t necessarily the first municipality in B.C. to pass legislation about rodenticides, but they certainly were sort of the biggest and the most vocal and they certainly developed the most comprehensive policy.

So the District of North Vancouver has also helped inspire other communities. And they can say, “Well, if a big municipality like the District of North Vancouver can do it, so can we.”

Because they also have this comprehensive policy that serves as a model for other municipalities and they don’t have to start from scratch. They already have something usable and comprehensive in place.

Amy: That certainly makes it easier to advocate. Do you have any advice for people who are in advocating for better laws for wildlife?

Erin: The most effective approach to try and make change is to talk to your elected officials. Because they want to make change that matters to their constituents, and if they don’t hear from you, they don’t know that it matters to you.

So the easiest thing you can do is email your City Councillors, Mayor and Council, email your MPs and MLAs, and let them know what animal issues are important to you and what you want to see. You can also even point them to our model bylaws and say, “I’d like to see something like this” or “This nearby district has this great bylaw. Is this something we could consider adopting?”

Laws around captive wild animals

Hana the tiger stares out the fence from a well-worn path at the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

Amy: As we segue into our next episode, we talked about fish welfare before, and then we’re moving on to laws around captive wild animals next month, taking a little bit of an in depth look at that aspect of wild animal welfare.

Do you have any thoughts to share on this topic? Are there ethical and non-ethical ways of keeping wildlife in captivity and is there room for improvement in the laws?

Erin: I think there’s certainly room for improvement. We talked a little bit about some of that cruelty legislation and how industry best practices or generally accepted best practices are excluded.

I think there is no denying that animals don’t have everything they need when we confine them in small spaces and put them up for public display. But unfortunately, if their nutritional needs are met and they’re not in neglect or distress, there’s not a lot legally that’s in place to protect them.

Amy: Yes, absolutely. I’m curious to see what can be done for stereotypical behavior.

Next episode

Watch out for the next episode of The Informed Animal Ally on October 25 about wild and exotic animals in captivity.


B.C. government asking for feedback on rodent poisons

The B.C. government is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the province’s rodenticide regulations. Similar to the current temporary, partial ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), the permanent changes being proposed fail to address a number of glaring gaps that will leave wildlife and pets at risk of rodenticide poisoning.

Birds of prey and scavengers that eat poisoned rodents continue to turn up dead; domestic cats and dogs are still being brought to veterinary clinics with serious symptoms of rodenticide poisoning, even losing their lives.

From now until June 19, 2022, animal lovers have a unique opportunity to speak up for wildlife and pets before B.C. moves forward with inadequate legislation.

Speak up for B.C. wildlife

Tell the provincial government that wildlife need stronger protections against inhumane and indiscriminate poisons. Click the link below to go to the B.C. government’s online consultation page.

Key points to consider during the public consultation period:

  • Many dangerous poisons would still be allowed under the new regulations, including first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides and neurotoxins.
  • Exemptions to the ban are too broad; second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides would still be used in many locations, including those with frequent wildlife activity.
  • Compliance with and enforcement of the partial ban have been inconsistent; there is inadequate evidence that the government has capacity to enforce proposed restrictions or Integrated Pest Management requirements.
  • Rodenticides are not a long-term solution, as they can harm and kill natural predators of rodents and cause ecosystem imbalance. Many more effective alternatives and prevention strategies exist.

Key recommendations

  • A comprehensive ban of all rodenticides is needed.
  • At the very least, the list of exempt locations should be reduced and the proposed changes should apply to all rodenticides.

Tips for filling out the public consultation survey

British Columbia residents can complete the online consultation by going to the B.C. government’s consultation page and clicking the button to “Submit comments online”.

If you are unable to complete the online consultation, you can email your feedback to

Continue scrolling for more in-depth points broken down by section. Please be sure to submit constructive comments in your own words.

Section 1: Demographics

Complete the section with your information.

Section 2: Discussion Questions (Optional – tap to expand)

Note: If you are unable to complete this section, you may still enter your key concerns under Section 3: General Comments. Please use the suggested points below as a guide rather than copy and pasting, as unique submissions are important.

QuestionSuggested points (in your own words)
1. The ministry is proposing to restrict the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) to Essential Services … What is your feedback on the proposed Essential Services list?The list is too broad and will result in continued widespread use of SGARs.
It should be further reduced and essential services should be assessed to evaluate and prioritize prevention and alternatives to rodenticides.
For example, both rodent conflict and other wildlife activity may be present because of attractants, such as at garbage dumps or recycling facilities. This increases the probability of poisoning of non-target wildlife.
2. What is your feedback on implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, focused on prevention and alternative control tools to rodenticides, when managing rodents?IPM has always been required, but has not been consistently followed or enforced.
Express your concerns about how prevention and alternatives will be enforced.
3. What is your feedback on the proposed requirement for a site-specific IPM plan where SGARs are used?Enforcement appears reactionary (site-specific plans would be provided to ministry inspectors upon request) rather than proactive (require all plans be submitted and reviewed).
4. The ministry is proposing to only allow short-term baiting if using SGARs within an IPM program. … How might the use of SGARs only for short-term baiting within an IPM program affect Essential Service operations?It appears that compliance would be based on good faith by service owners and operators.
Express your concerns about how compliance with 35-day limit and 120 total days per year time limit will be tracked and enforced.
Questions 5-11Respond as desired or proceed to Section 3.

Section 3: General Comments

12. Do you have any other feedback on the proposed changes outlined in the Intentions Paper?

Respond with your main concerns and key points. Below are some additional details to consider. Please feel free to use the points below as a guide, but be sure to submit comments in your own words rather than copying and pasting.

  • There are many negative impacts of rodenticides, such as secondary poisoning of non-target species—which poses a danger to domestic pets and wildlife, including birds of prey.
  • The proposed changes don’t impact the use of other dangerous and inhumane rodenticides, such as first-generation anticoagulants (FGARs) and non-anticoagulants. For instance, veterinarians have raised concerns about bromethalin, a neurotoxin with no specific antidote, yet its use as a rodenticide is still permitted.
  • Exemptions for essential services are too broad and would mean SGARs will continue to be used in many circumstances and contribute to significant wildlife poisoning and deaths.
  • There are concerns about the government’s ability to enforce a permanent partial ban on SGARs. Evidence of suspected SGAR use in prohibited locations was routinely found during the temporary ban and follow-up on reported complaints was inconsistent and slow, suggesting that there aren’t enough resources allocated to effectively enforce a partial ban.
  • The same concerns exist with regard to capacity to enforce enhanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) requirements—how will the government ensure compliance in terms of no preventative SGAR baiting; ensuring prevention and alternative measures are first exhausted; and limits on baiting time periods? IPM is already required in the current regulations and has not been effectively enforced, leading to regular overuse and misuse of all rodenticide products.
  • There are many prevention methods and alternatives.
  • Prevention is the only long-term solution to rodent conflict. For instance, removing attractants (garbage, compost, food sources like bird seed and fallen fruit, leaky plumbing); rodent-proofing buildings and fixing structural flaws and access points; habitat modification (cutting back bushes and grasses from around building, storing items away from buildings and off the ground).
  • Alternatives exist for lethal control, if needed, including high-quality snap traps; captive bolt traps and other mechanical systems (e.g. Goodnature device); rodent contraceptives (e.g. Contrapest); supporting presence of natural rodent predators, such as owls, through building owl boxes. A family of owls can eat more than 1,000 rodents per year!
  • Recommendation: For all of the above listed reasons, a complete ban on all rodenticides is strongly recommended, including FGARs and non-anticoagulants. As currently proposed, the regulations would result in a complicated patchwork of rules for different audiences and different rodenticide products, which is practically impossible to enforce.
  • At the very least, the proposed essential services list should be further reduced and, crucially, all of the proposed changes being proposed should be applicable to all rodenticides, rather than just SGARs. This would streamline the regulations across audiences and rodenticide products, creating more consistency in the regulations and enforcement.

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.


B.C. wildlife photographers call for full ban on dangerous rodent poisons

Calls continue to grow for a comprehensive ban on rodent poisons across British Columbia. The province’s current temporary ban on second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) still allows for these products to be used in many circumstances. Meanwhile, the ban fails to prohibit other dangerous rodenticides that pose a similar threat to wildlife from being used. These loopholes prompted VHS, advocates and concerned B.C. residents to call for further action by the B.C. government to protect wildlife from these dangerous and cruel poisons.

Most recently, the Canadian Conservation Photographers Collective shared their support for a comprehensive rodenticide ban and their members took to social media to help raise awareness.

“The Canadian Conservation Photographers Collective (CCPC) fully supports a province-wide ban of all rodenticides in British Columbia as proposed by the Vancouver Humane Society.

The indiscriminate use of rodenticides in the province leads to the deaths each year of many non-target species, such as raptors and household pets. Many owl species, which are extraordinarily adept at catching and killing rodents, are the unfortunate victims of rodenticide use. As advocates for conservation, our members would welcome the discontinuation of all rodenticides in B.C. and the rest of Canada.”

CCPC members shared stunning images of different species who often fall victim to rodenticide poisoning, reiterating the widespread impact of these indiscriminate poisons. Scroll down the page to see some of the CCPC photographers’ powerful images and words.

If you haven’t already, you can also add your name to our petition, calling for a comprehensive rodenticide ban.

Yuri Choufour

“They’ve played an important role in ecosystems for millions of years and captured the human imagination through recorded history. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like owls. When scanning their surroundings with large piercing eyes, these elusive and charismatic birds often perch hidden in plain sight. Varying adaptations such as nearly silent flight, strong vision & exceptional hearing have made them one of nature’s ultimate rodent hunters.

Some owl species are already imperilled by habitat loss, so we need to act to diminish further threats! Thanks to efforts by the Vancouver Humane Society, you can take part in an online petition to help put an end to the controversial use of rodenticides in BC. These poisons are counter-productive, as they often kill the predators of the targeted rodents in the process. We would love you to lend your voice, helping put a stop to this outdated practice. There are better solutions out there, and we need to continue to improve when it comes to coexisting with wildlife.”

Follow: yurichoufour

Mark Williams


You may have heard this this term, you may have even considered using them, trusting a large company that they are safe, well they are absolutely not. Not for you, for your pets and certainly not for a number of wild animals.

They are extremely toxic poisons that cause a slow and painful death for the rodents. Then what do you think happened to the dead rodents? They are consumed by a number of scavengers or the sick rodents are piled off by predators like owls having deviating effects. I also ready one study that over 60% of mountain lion necropsies found large numbers of rodenticides in them. They are also very harmful for pets and can easily getting into human agricultures for us to consume.”

Follow: marineconservationphotography

Isabelle Groc

“A few years ago, I wrote and co-directed with @mikemckinlayproductions a short film in collaboration with @wildernews about the work of biologist Sofi Hindmarch to understand and conserve the threatened barn owl in British Columbia. ‘Silent Flight’ highlights the many struggles this species is facing: habitat loss, road mortality and rodenticide poisoning. The film can be viewed in the film section of my website.

Today there is an opportunity for all of us to take action and make a difference for the survival of the barn owl, and all wildlife species that suffer a slow and painful death after consuming poisoned rodents.

On 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.

Please join me and the members of in supporting the @vancouverhumane who are asking the government of British Columbia to ban all rodenticides in the province.”

Follow: isabellegroc

Ryan Miller

“Vancouver Humane Society is taking action to ban rodenticides. They are 1000 signatures shy of their goal.

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.”

Follow: ryanmillerphoto


“Important BC Wildlife post … Please go to @vancouverhumane click in their profile to sign the petition to permanently ban poisons against all wildlife. Lets be a voice for those without and help protect these beautiful lives.”

Follow: happytrailzjk

Ray Maichin

“Rodenticides have long caused problems for BC wildlife. On top of being extremely inhumane, rodenticides have far reaching consequences not just to the target ‘pests’ but the wildlife that feeds on them.

Last year, the BC government put a temporary ban on rodenticide use which may be lifted soon. @vancouverhumane and others are calling for a full PERMANENT ban on these deadly poisons that also pose threats to children and pets.”

Follow: raymaichinphoto

Michael, Vancouver Island Wildlife

“At the time I’m writing this The Vancouver Humane Society is a little over a thousand signatures short of there goal of 5000 to help ban the use of rodenticides.

Rodenticides for anyone that doesn’t know are an incredibly toxic poison that once consumed cause a very cruel and painful death to the rodents that consume.

The effects of rodenticides doesn’t stop there as it can cause severe injuries and death to scavenging animals especially birds of prey that feed on these rodents!

On July 21st 2021 the BC government put in place a 18 month PARTIAL ban on rodenticides where they can not be used near schools, residential buildings, parks, offices, or non-food retail shops. Holes in this law and lack of enforcement are still leaving wildlife at risk!”

Follow: islandwildlife

Josh DeLeenheer

“Please join me and the members of in supporting the @vancouverhumane, who are asking the government of British Columbia to ban all rodenticides in the province. This is an opportunity for you to have a direct impact on a conservation issue.”


You can help!

Your voice can make a difference in the call to protect wildlife from cruel and dangerous rodent poisons. Take the quick action to support a full ban on rodenticides in B.C.

Looking to protect animals in your community? Next time you are running errands or spending time outside, keep an eye out for bait boxes that may contain banned poisons around non-exempt locations like apartment buildings, offices, and parks. Learn how to identify and report banned rodenticides here.

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?

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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.!