According to a recent study by veterinary scientists at the University of California, Davis, rat poison used by marijuana growers California (and probably elsewhere) is killing the fisher, a rather rare forest carnivore. The researchers have found rodenticide in fisher carcasses all around the state, including in and near national parks.
"Our findings were very surprising since non-target poisoning from these chemicals is typically seen in wildlife in urban or agricultural settings," said lead author Mourad Gabriel, a UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory researcher and president of the Integral Ecology Research Center.Photo courtesy: Flickr
"In California, fishers inhabit mature forests within the national forest, national parks, private industrial and tribal community lands nowhere near urban or agricultural areas," explained Gabriel.
Fishers are likely to be exposed to the rat poison when they eat animals that have ingested it. Fishers also may consume rodenticides directly, drawn by the bacon, cheese and peanut butter flavors that manufacturers add to the poisons to attract animals.
The anticoagulant rodenticides harm the fishers by compromising their blood clotting and recovery abilities and decreasing their resilience to environmental stressors.
A member of the weasel family, the fisher, Martes pennanti, has been declared a candidate species for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act in California, Oregon and Washington.
Other carnivorous species, including martens, spotted owls, and Sierra Nevada red foxes, also may be at risk from the poison.
Is this yet another argument in favor of legalizing marijuana? Maybe. Personally, I am in favour of legalizing marijuana for many reasons; but, this type of thing is not the least of them. If people were allowed to grow their own marijuana legally, this type of devastation to the environment would not happen. And; let's not forget, that these poisons will find their way into the groundwater system given time.
But the facts remain that, at this point in time, growing marijuana is illegal unless you are a certified medicinal grower. So, in an effort to remain undetected, growers are cultivating their illegal crop in and near national parks. The hope is that the dense foliage of a natural park will cover what they are doing.
This causes lots of poison to be indiscriminately spread around those areas; harming wildlife, poisoning the water system, leaching into the soil, changing the ecosystem; and, causing untold (and perhaps irreversible) damage. We must also be aware of the potential harm this practise could cause to humans and companion animals that make use of the national parks.