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Open Access Publications from the University of California

What Do We Need to Know to Assess Individual and Population-level Effects on Wildlife from Anticoagulant Rodenticides?

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Anticoagulant rodenticides have been detected in many species of wildlife worldwide; yet the origins, exposure pathways, and effects of this exposure are not well understood. Furthermore, to accurately characterize the risks from rodenticide use, information is needed on what proportion of populations are being exposed, what proportion of the exposed individuals are affected, and in what ways. The relationship between anticoagulant rodenticide concentrations found in wildlife and the rate of mortality or illness is the subject of much current research. Residue levels observed in liver and whole body analyses vary, and overlap extensively among apparently healthy asymptomatic individuals and sublethal and lethal cases. Results from laboratory studies also show there can be wide variability in lethal and sublethal effects among and within taxonomic groups. Correlating the sublethal and reproductive effects observed in laboratory studies with realistic exposure scenarios and effects in the wild is needed to improve risk assessments. For species with limited numbers/declining populations, a critical question is whether the rodenticide exposure documented in individual animals inhibit population growth or contribute to population declines by lowering survival and reproductive success. This information is essential to the regulatory agencies that must weigh the risks and benefits of rodenticide uses and identify restrictions that are effective in reducing risks to wildlife. A primary objective of this symposium was to facilitate communication between regulators and researchers. Current research on many of these topics was presented, and was followed by discussions on how to improve our understanding of what factors lead to wildlife exposure and improve our ability to assess the effects of exposure on individuals and populations. A collaborative approach will be developed to design studies that provide regulatory and wildlife management agencies with additional science on which to base their decisions.

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