Today, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1788, the California Ecosystems Protection Act of 2020. AB 1788 will prohibit the use of second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), which are used to eradicate rodents but have the unintended dire consequence of harming and killing non-target wildlife, including endangered species.
Up to 95% of certain populations of predator species in California have been exposed to SGARs after eating poisoned animals. Poisonings and deaths have been documented in multiple at-risk species including mountain lions, San Joaquin kit foxes, northern spotted owls, fishers and Humboldt martens.
This week, Gov. Newsom also signed the California Sea Otter Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (Senate Bill (SB) 587). The bill passed the state legislature earlier this month and will extend the current California Sea Otter Fund, which supports important research and conservation efforts to protect and recover the threatened southern sea otter population through voluntary taxpayer contributions on the California Resident Income Tax Return.
SB 587 will continue critical funding for “increased investigation, prevention, and enforcement actions related to sea otter mortality” as well as “competitive grants and contracts to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for research, science, protection, projects, or programs related to the Federal Sea Otter Recovery Plan.”
Pamela Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“Defenders of Wildlife applauds Governor Newsom for his continued support for California’s wildlife by signing SB 587 and AB 1788 into law. Defenders is a proud supporter of both bills. The extension of the California Sea Otter Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund will allow California taxpayers to continue to contribute to conservation efforts including research, which will help inform recovery actions as otters continue to face threats like human disturbance and habitat loss. AB 1788 will protect our communities and imperiled wildlife by prohibiting most uses of highly-toxic second generation anticoagulant.”
- Defenders of Wildlife has a long history of promoting the conservation of sea otters. In 2006, together with Friends of the Sea Otter, Defenders successfully advocated for legislation that increased protections for sea otters from diseases transmitted through poor water quality. The law required that cat litter sold in California must include a statement discouraging the flushing of cat litter in toilets or disposing of it outdoors, where pathogens in cat feces can enter the watershed, flow to the ocean and cause disease in sea otters. The legislation also created the original California Sea Otter Fund, which has raised nearly $4 million to date.
- Defenders has also been working to ban rodenticides from California cities and communities because of their harmful effects on wildlife as well as humans. Defenders supported the passage of California Natural Predator Protection Act (AB 2596) in 2016, which banned some of the most dangerous rodenticides in residential and commercial areas where people, pets and wildlife are frequently exposed, but still allowed their use to protect California’s agricultural economy and to protect public health and the environment during an emergency rodent or disease outbreak.