Activists Rally Ahead of Malibu Vote on Rodenticide Ban

Activists, led by Joel and Kian Schulman of Poison Free Malibu, recently took to the streets to rally in support of the rodenticide ban. Photo by Suzanne Guldimann

Malibu City Council Will Decide If Malibu Adopts LA County’s Policy on Toxins.

On December 9, the Malibu City Council will vote on a citywide ban on toxic rodenticides and other chemical pesticides. If the ordinance is approved, it will bring Malibu’s Local Coastal Program into alignment with the more recent LCP approved for unincorporated Los Angeles County.

More than 50 activists rallied against rodenticide at a march in Malibu on November 15. The event was intended to raise awareness of the wildlife mortality crisis resulting from the use of most deadly anticoagulant rodenticides ahead of the December vote.

Anticoagulants prevent blood from clotting, causing rodents—or any animal that has ingested the poison or another animal poisoned by the rodenticide, to bleed to death internally. It’s a slow death. Anticoagulants have been found in the blood of nearly 90 percent of tested mountain lions and bobcats.

At least five mountain lions in the population being studied by the National Park Service in and around Santa Monica Mountains have bled to death directly from consumption of animals poisoned with anticoagulants, three this year. Bobcats, mountain lions, and coyotes can also develop weakened immune systems that can lead to death from mange, a parasitic infection. 

P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion who has become the poster cat for urban wildlife, was successfully treated for the same condition in 2016 and recovered. Many animals die.

A recent California Department of Pesticide Regulation analysis of 11 different wildlife studies indicates that non-target animals continue to be poisoned in large numbers despite state restrictions on the sale and use of the deadliest rodenticides put in place in 2014. These “long-lasting super toxins frequently poison non-target animals that eat poisoned rodents,” the report found. Collateral damage includes dogs and cats, as well as wildlife.

Poison Free Malibu has campaigned for an end to anticoagulant sales and use in Malibu since the husband-and-wife team of Kian and Joel Schulman started the nonprofit organization in 2012, following the death of Mountain Lion P-25 in Point Mugu State Park.

The Schulmans have worked with a coalition of other key area environmental activists, including Carrie Carrier, chair of the Topanga Creek Watershed Council, who has successfully negotiated to remove rodenticides and herbicides from the Topanga watershed. 

Poison Free Malibu and its allies successfully campaigned to remove pesticides from Malibu’s city parks and buildings. They are also a key part of a larger effort to eliminate the most toxic anticoagulants at the state level. A bill authored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom, who represents Topanga and Malibu, made it through the committee process earlier this year, but the vote was postponed until 2020. 

“We knew working on state legislation would be tough,” Kian Schulman told the Messenger Mountain News. “But the Malibu City Council has expressed support for a local ban, which is already part of the LCP in Los Angeles County. Malibu’s LCP amendment will protect the entire Coastal Zone in the Santa Monica Mountains from rodenticides.”

The biggest challenge in the effort to ban rodenticides in Malibu is the need to demonstrate that the city has the legal authority to implement the ban. The City of Malibu has received letters in support of the amendment from the California Coastal Commission counsel and Los Angeles County counsel. The ban also has the support of the Natural Resource Defense Council. Proponents of the ban have another major argument in favor of its legality in the form of a Superior Court ruling handed down by Judge James Chafant in 2017 that finds that the Coastal Commission, through the LCP process, has the authority to regulate pesticides in the Coastal Zone. 

“There is clear evidence that LCPs can regulate pesticides,” Joel Schulman said. “There is no legal issue. It is a political decision to be made by the city council if they have the independence to do so. Mountain lions move around,” he said, pointing out that Topanga’s mountain lions are also at risk from rodenticides used in Malibu.

“Please encourage your readers to come to the meeting on December 9,” he said. “We need their support. It’s very important to be at the December 9 meeting if you care about our wildlife.”

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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