Raptors Are the Solution (RATS) educates people about the ecological role of birds of prey in urban and wild areas and about the danger they face from the widespread use of rat poison. RATS is a fiscally-sponsored project of Earth Island Institute, rated a Four Star Charity by Charity Navigator. RATS raises all of our own funds through grants and donations. We partner with other nonprofits, agencies, scientists, cities, and others to work toward eliminating toxic rodenticides from the food web.
Our goal is to see all anticoagulant and other poisonous rodenticides taken off the market and no longer used by pest control companies due to their dangers to children, pets, and wildlife. Much of our work involves public education campaigns, including on public transit and freeway billboards. In 2017 we are working toward a statewide ban on rodenticides in California.
You can help us spread the word! Check out our free educational materials.
We tell our story in many different ways. Watch this cool Claymation video, “Raptor Blues,” by the talented young filmmaker Ian Timothy.
Anticoagulant and other rat poison products designed to kill rodents are also killing birds of prey, pet dogs and cats, and many species of wildlife, including several endangered species. The mate of famous New York City red-tailed hawk Pale Male died after ingesting a poisoned rat. These products are also poisoning children, even when the products are used in accordance with the directions on the packages. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), between 1999 and 2003, 25,549 children under the age of six had poisoning symptoms after exposure to rodenticides. Seventy-two percent had been exposed to a second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, brodifacoum.
In 2008, the U.S. EPA determined that various second-generation rodenticides posed an “unreasonable risk” to children, pets, and wildlife. The EPA gave the poison companies three years to switch to safer products, but three—Reckitt-Benckiser, Spectrum, and Liphatech—refused to do so and tied up the EPA’s cancellation process in lawsuits for years. Finally, as of April 1, 2015, second generation anticoagulants are no longer sold over the counter in the U.S. However, several dangerous first generation anticoagulants and other types of rat poison remain on the market, allowed by the U.S. EPA. We are highly concerned about the loopholes that allow these products to remain on the shelves as well as by the fact that EPA allows the pest control industry to continue to use the same second generation anticoagulant poisons it pulled off of consumer shelves. You can read more here about the products currently on the market and allowed by the EPA.
RATS was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011 after Cooper’s hawks began falling dead on the streets from eating poisoned rats. RATS, with help from our many partners–especially Poison Free Malibu in Southern California–is working with cities and counties throughout the state to encourage them to adopt resolutions discouraging businesses from selling dangerous rodenticides. Read some of the city resolutions here.
Is rat poison our new DDT? Read an excellent summary by Urban Carnivores. And if you are interested in seeing some of the (many) scientific studies that have been done about wildlife and pets and poison go here.