California study finds cannabis grows responsible for mammal deaths

Posted on July 17th, 2012 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , .

CaliforniaPotent rat poisons used on large-scale cannabis grows on forest lands throughout California may be killing off a rare forest carnivore, according to a study released July 13. "This could be a game changer," said Arcata city councilman Mark Wheetley of the study prepared by UC Davis biologists documenting the deaths of fishers—reclusive members of the Mustelid family that are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act. "I think this whole study should serve as a wake up call for the public to understand the magnitude of the impact of what's being done to what we consider sacred, protected public lands," added Wheetley, who also works as a biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Mourad Gabriel, lead author of the study and president of the Integral Ecology Research Center in Blue Lake, Humboldt county, said the study emerged from efforts to identify threats to California's fisher populations. Because the reclusive forest predators live in coniferous and hardwood forests far from urban population centers or agricultural fields, Gabriel said researchers were shocked to find they were being poisoned by toxicants at an alarming rate.

The study found that almost 80% of fishers found dead by researchers between 2006 and 2011 had been exposed to high levels of anticoagulant rodenticide—rat poison, in the vernacular. Because these fishers were being monitored and lived in remote areas, Gabriel said researchers were initially stumped as to what could be the potential exposure points for them. The connection was made by the fact that all the deaths of exposed fishers occurred between mid-April and mid-May—just when cannabis growers are most likely to use large amounts of poison to protect their seedlings. Gabriel said some of the rodenticides are treated with "flavorizers" to make the poisons taste like bacon, cheese or peanut butter—which could cause fishers to eat the poison directly. The more likely conclusion, however, is that the fishers are exposed through eating small rodents.

This is considered a troubling notion for two reasons. First, fishers have the same prey groups as such threatened or endangered species as condors, spotted owls and martens—so those groups may be just as likely to be impacted. Second, these poisons could wipe out a whole prey group—wood rats, deer mice and other small scavenging rodents—in the region, threatening a collapse or partial collapse of a food chain. (Eureka Times-Standard, July 14)

Graphic by Global Ganja Report 


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