When some ranchers use poison -- just like the old days

  • Ted Williams

 

"Biocides" was Rachel Carson's term for pesticides that kill indiscriminately. They haven't been much talked about since the banning of DDT and relatives in the 1970s – until now.

As Pete Gober, who heads the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's effort to save the black-footed ferret, America's most endangered mammal, put it recently:  "The incredibly dumb things we did 40 years ago are coming full circle." Had I heard of a biocide called Rozol? I had not.

Rozol makes creatures that ingest it bleed from every orifice and stagger around for the week or two or three it takes them to die, attracting predators and scavengers.  Whatever eats the anticoagulant-laced victim dies, too.

Rozol was registered for black-tailed-prairie dog control in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming by George W. Bush's EPA and, in May 2009, by Barack Obama's EPA in the rest of the range -- Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Now, this biocide is killing golden eagles, bald eagles, ferruginous hawks, owls, magpies, turkey vultures, badgers, swift foxes, coyotes, raccoons, red-winged blackbirds, wild turkeys, and almost certainly, ferrets.

Because Rozol-poisoned prairie dogs leave their burrows, people who apply the poison are legally required to return and bury carcasses. They don't and would find few carcassesif they did.  As one applicator told Gober, "You put it out and you go fishing."

Prairie dogs have been eliminated from 95 percent of their habitat, and where cattle aren't overstocked there's no evidence they compete with them for grass.  Moreover, prairie dogs benefit or sustain at least 150 vertebrate species including ferrets, which can't exist without them.

But Gober's agency isn't asking ranchers to stop killing prairie dogs, only to poison them with the more selective alternative, zinc phosphide.  It's cheaper and easier to use -- if you assume that applicators actually take the time to obey the law and bury Rozol-contaminated carcasses.

"We've hammered EPA with our concerns about Rozol and about permitting it without consulting us on endangered species impacts," said Gober.  "They just blow us off."

Pressure for expanded Rozol use is intense. Whipped to a froth of fear and loathing by the Farm Bureau and county commissions, property-rights zealots who hate all things federal save farm support are using Rozol to neutralize the Endangered Species Act and eliminate black-footed ferrets.

I found the best example in western Kansas where the Logan County Commission is exterminating ferrets and their food supply by inciting the public against prairie dogs and nuking ferret habitat with Rozol. In 2007, after a 50-year absence, ferrets were returned to Kansas because two brave and enlightened ranchers invited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use their properties near Russell Springs as a release site.

For protecting prairie dogs and welcoming ferrets, Larry Haverfield and Gordon Barnhardt have become local pariahs. Most of their neighboring ranchers filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against them for allegedly creating a regional prairie-dog infestation.

Because Rozol is so deadly to all wildlife, the law requires that it be placed inside prairie dog holes.  Instead, the county commission's applicator showed up uninvited on the Haverfield ranch, tossing Rozol-laced bait around like confetti.  The state has ordered him to pay a $2,800 fine.

When I visited commission chair Carl Uhrich, he made it clear that he hates black-footed ferrets at least as much as prairie dogs.  "Ranchers," he told me, "don't like having an endangered species because they bring all the federal rules with them.  We sent the Fish and Wildlife Service a copy of our resolution, and they just ignored it.  I said, ‘Well, you can take your ferrets and go home then.'"

The resolution, legally meaningless, wrongly calls ferrets "not indigenous" and proclaims "that no person or agency shall bring into Logan County one or more black-footed ferret or any…endangered species."

The commission has been harassing Haverfield and Barnhardt with meritless court actions. And it is vainly attempting to enforce an unconstitutional, century-old Kansas statute that authorizes it to enter private property "infested" with prairie dogs, "exterminate" them, then send the bill to the landowner.

Late last summer I joined Haverfield and Ron Klataske, the director of Audubon of Kansas, in a ferret survey organized by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  I operated the spotlight while Haverfield drove.  A few ferrets were seen by other volunteers, none by us.

"The surrounding landscape has been saturated with Rozol," remarked Klataske.  "If any ferrets left the property, chances are they're dead."

From the perspective of the county commission, Farm Bureau and most of the ranching community, that's the whole idea.

Ted Williams is a contributor to Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News (hcn.org). He writes the Incite column for Audubon Magazine and lives in Massachusetts.

infuriating
JT
JT
Jan 26, 2010 01:48 PM
Tell us who we can contact to shine more light on this disgusting behavior by property rights zealots. Wait, that's property rights hypocrites, since they're harassing the two owners who actually live in the 21st century. I'm from Kansas, and want to raise a stink about this.
Poison/Ferrets
Leslie Abrahams
Leslie Abrahams
Jan 26, 2010 03:22 PM
Oh my God! This is horrible! I will send this report out far and wide. How do these people sleep at night?
I am not surprised that Bush ok'ed this but Obama? His policies on endangered species is no better than Bush's and I am very disappointed in him as president!
Obama's environmental record
Q
Q
Feb 18, 2010 07:53 AM
Leslie
Although it is shameful that Obama has allowed further use of Rozol, please do not paint his entire environmental record with this oversight.

Obama has worked to enhance protection of many local and regional habitats using critically important existing legislation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). His administration has attempted regain control over Environmental Assesments and Environmental Impact Statements that are used to enforce the aforementioned ESA, CAA, CWA. Under Bush, except in instances of serious local opposition, these regulations were frequently rubber-stamped or evaded in favor of short-term corporate interests. Obama's goal of actually enforcing these important environmental protection laws is why the mineral and petroleum extraction industries generally stand in opposition to his politics. I applaud the current administration for seeking to regain some semblence of order when it comes to enforcing standing environmental protection legislation. I wish Obama would go further, but the opposition has been fierce and I fear he has already lost vital political capital for having the courage to take a stand on many issues. We do not need to return to the politics of Bush/Cheney.
That's the beef industry for you
Andrea
Andrea
Jan 26, 2010 04:16 PM
It seems that in recent years there has been an effort by some in the ranching community to portray themselves and their products as "green." Stories like this however prove otherwise. In addition, livestock is responsible for more than 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. All those concerned about native wildlife, climate change and our waterways should send a message to the ranching community and our politicians by boycotting beef and following a vegetarian diet instead.
That's the beef industry for you
Janet Weeks
Janet Weeks
Jan 26, 2010 04:58 PM
My polite letter of protest will go to the man himself:

President Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Rozol
Victoria
Victoria
Jan 26, 2010 06:14 PM
I sent an email to President Obama.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Boycott Beef, Chicken, Pork well anything with legs attached....
Fonda
Fonda
Jan 27, 2010 10:00 AM
I recently watched a movie relating to the farming industry and the big powers behind the Industry and the inhumane acts against the animals that live life grossly and die as grossly as they unfortunately lived, for man...to consume... while I believe that being a vegetarian is a personal choice and not for evryone nor does the reasoning behind the decision make any difference, to me anyway; however, once educated on the inhumane acts inflicted upon these gentle creatures I find it impossible not to feel a burning desire to address if not somehow correct the abuse inflicted upon these creatures that are bred and born to feed a carniverous society. What must we do individually and collectively as a society to educate the masses on what is really going on behind the curtains of the Farming Industry and the unfortunate fate of the farmers who are sworn to secrecy regarding their enforced farming habits which govern the animals existence("way of life while alive as well as their predetermined length of life and way in which their life is inhumanely ended, particularly the Pigs")and or they lose their contracts that they have with one out of the four large companies who own the farmers, so to speak. So shall we boycott beef or shall we boycott the inhumane treatment of our farm animals and boycott the pesticide usage which affects our wildlife in a cascading kind of way which ultimately will be to OUR demise. Wake up AMERICANS!
Biocides
Rebecca Oglesby
Rebecca Oglesby
Jan 26, 2010 05:05 PM
This is absolutely outrageous! I'm from Kansas too, and remember a vigorous fight a few years ago between a rancher near me who wanted to re-introduce prairie dogs to his farm and the scathing, angry responses he got from county commissioners and fellow farmers. He lost, of course.
My representatives seem to care less about issues like this~ they listen to the money and the loudest voices~ so how can we effectively respond to these poisoners? Petitions aren't effective, nor are phone calls or letters.
Biocides
Peter
Peter
Jan 27, 2010 12:09 PM
You simply cannot teach people about things that they don't want to confront. Until voting constituencies rise up, and let the government understand that they will enact a price at the polls, things will not change. This is about money, as most actions of our government are. The EPA is breaching its fundamental fiduciary responsibility to the public by allowing the use of biocides to continue. It shames the very name of man itself.
What'll it take?
MC
MC
Jan 27, 2010 12:52 PM
We're a self-absorbed species. It'll take the accidental death of one child or half a dozen beloved pet dogs playing in the treated areas. I volunteer the kids of Liphatech's CEO and board of directors.

Seriously, though, the vote you make with your wallet always counts for more than the vote on paper. So, here you go: Liphatech makes Rozol. Here's a list of their various "Pest Management" brands (rodents, insects, slugs & snails). Look at the brand & don't buy it.

Generation
First Strike
Maki
BlueMax
NoTox
Metarex

Recent childrens death (2) from pesticide use
Q
Q
Feb 18, 2010 08:08 AM
Here you go...just last week. It isn't Rozol, but it is the same obsession with eliminating "pests".

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14374740

In Utah, of all places, this family was so concerned about pests they were willing to have poison placed within 10 feet of their front door. Aparently that is a few feet too close for safety. I'm amazed that they (the family AND pest control workers) thought this was a good idea with toddlers around.
Who's working on this?
BFF
BFF
Feb 03, 2010 10:27 AM
I found a petition to the EPA to stop poisoning prairie dogs from WWF - http://www.epa.gov/[…]/p23932.htm

Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas have filed suit over this:
http://www.missoulian.com/n[…]11de-8902-001cc4c002e0.html
!!!!!ROSOL IS GREAT!!!!!!
Jack
Jack
Feb 18, 2010 12:02 AM
I USE THIS PRODUCT AND YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT THIS ARTICLE IS FALSE!!!! FIRST, IF A TARGET ANIMAL IS KILLED FROM ROSOL AND ANOTHER ANIMAL EAT'S IT'S CARCAS IT WILL NOT DIE, THAT IS ACTUALY ONE OF THE VERRY GOOD THINGS ABOUT THIS PRODUCT. (IF YOU BAIT & KILL A MOUSE AND YOUR CAT EATS THE MOUSE IT WONT DIE. SECOND, IF YOUR DOG EAT'S ROSOL DIRECTLY IT TAKES AROUND 20 LBS. TO BE FATAL WHERE OTHER POISONS TAKE ABOUT 8 OZ. ALSO IF EATEN THERE IS AN ANTIDOTE AVAIBLE AT THE VET'S OFFICE THAT WILL REVERSE THE PROCESS. THIRD, PEST'S ARE KILLED BECAUSE THEY ARE A HUGE PROLBEM IN FARMING (YEILD LOSS, EQUIPMENT DAMAGE, LIVESTOCK INJURY, FLOODING ETC..) IF YOU WANT TO KEEP EATING ALL THE FOOD YOU LOVE FARMERS HAVE TO GROW IT. SO IF YOU WANT TO STOP THE USE OF THESE POISON'S SOONER OR LATER YOU ARE GOING TO KILL YOURSELF. USE SOME COMMON SENSE!!!!!!!
Rozol
Lisa
Lisa
Feb 28, 2010 04:42 PM
Anyone who uses pesticides is an insensitive ignorant lazy person. There are numerous ways to control "pests" that don't kill.
EPA + AgriBUS + Obama = Up US USA
Pete
Pete
Jun 02, 2010 05:48 PM
Last summer when Islam Siddiqui was nominated by that smooth talking man up there in the big white house to become chief U.S. Agricultural Trade representative, did you think Barry would also cast doubt on his commitment to his wife's honor. How? Siddiqui was openly critical of Michelle for not using synthetic chemicals in her organic garden(it was in the press) and her hubby nominates Siddiqui[regardless].(Pathetic) So dude gets what? A little bit more quality time with his pals at Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow? He is a fool for power. Another tool of the shadow government. Hear them cry, Die Sucker Die !