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Dead bobcat in backyard story sparks community dialogue about rodenticides, Dicterow says he will push for ban

By SUZIE HARRISON 

What started out as a post on a neighborhood website about a bobcat allegedly poisoned and found dead in a neighbor’s yard has gone viral. The news has been circulating throughout Laguna and has even made its way to City Council. 

The message on Monday said, “My neighbor found a dead bobcat in her backyard. The animal control said it’s probably from rat poison and they have been seeing a lot of that. Also, he said it’s unnecessary because there are other humane ways of keeping rodents off your property. Please don’t use poison or traps.”

Multiple readers contacted Stu News, concerned about the issue. Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow spoke about it at Tuesday night’s council meeting.

As it turns out, the incident occurred in Arizona, where the poster has a second home. Her intentions were to bring light to this important issue, and she never meant to imply that the incident occurred in Laguna, she said.

Regardless of where it happened, the subject has sparked an important conversation.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Dicterow offered a strong response. “It’s absolutely irrelevant, whether this situation occurred [in Laguna Beach] or not, other situations like this have occurred. Rodenticides are terrible, they cause internal bleeding [to animals], and up the food chain. We know that that’s true,” he said.

He also stated that he intends on creating an agenda bill for council.

“I intend to create an agenda bill, within the next month, to prohibit the City from using rodenticides in its daily work. I also want us to support the legislative bill that is before the State Senate right now.”

Harry Huggins, representing Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC), is in congruence. He also spoke at Tuesday’s council meeting, and circulated a letter this week stating that LCC “would like to urge the City Council to join other communities around the state, nation and world to stop the use of deadly rodent poisons and to take a stand to get poisons out of the City and municipal parks.”

The bill Dicterow would like the City to support, AB1788, is working its way through the State Assembly, and would ban the use of deadly First and Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides (FGARs and SGARs). According to the bill, upper-level predators that consume poisoned rodents – hawks, owls, bobcats, foxes, mountain lions, and others – are frequently secondarily poisoned. Wildlife are also poisoned when they directly consume the bait, as are children and household pets.

According to a comprehensive study by the Department of Fish & Wildlife, of the 111 deceased mountain lions that were studied in 2016, FGARs were detected in 73 percent of dead animals from 33 counties and SGARs in 92 percent from 35 counties. “This clearly illustrates the widespread disastrous consequences of the continuing use of anticoagulant rodenticides,” states the bill.

Dicterow said this issue is one that can bring the community together. “Both political sides agree on this issue. So maybe we can find issues that start bringing people together, like this.”