What is the Safe Rodent Control Program?

Did you know?

Rodenticides (poisons used to kill rodents like rats or mice) are a major cause of death for Fraser Valley birds of prey? Unfortunately, raptors such as owls and hawks die as a result of eating rodenticide exposed rodents.


This program provides information on how to control rodents in a safe and effective manner where rodenticides are only used temporarily as an absolute last resort.

Rodenticide poisoned great horned owl

Rodenticides Harm Raptors

See how the numbers stack up for our local birds of prey.



The average number a Barn Owl family with young eat needs to in a year.



Deceased Barn Owls will test positive for one or more rodenticides.



The half-life of the rodenticide brodifacoum in the liver of a house mouse.
How do rodenticides work?

Anticoagulant rodenticides, in particular second-generation products (active ingredient: bromadiolone, difethialone or brodifacoum), are very toxic with the intent that a single feed on the compound is enough to kill a rat. These poisons are also very persistent, which means that a dead poisoned rodent can be deadly if scavenged by other wildlife. Further, bait aversion can be a challenge when trying to trap rats, hence rodenticides are designed to be slow reacting compounds to reduce the likelihood of rats associating getting sick and dying from eating the bait. Therefore, it can take up to 7-10 days before a rat dies from eating rodenticides. During this lag-time the exposed rat can go back to the bait station and eat more poison, ingesting more than what is required for a lethal dose. Exposed rats slowly get sick and sluggish from eating the bait which makes them susceptible to being predated upon by an owl or a pet.

Why are rodenticides unsafe?

All types of rodent poison can sicken and kill wildlife and pets, either directly or indirectly. When non-target insects or animals feed on the bait they can transfer the poison up the food chain, where it will have a cumulative impact on larger predators.

Check out this graphic from Raptors are the Solution to see just a few of the pathways poison can travel in this toxic food web.


What impacts are we seeing locally?

Annually raptors that get admitted to the Orphan Wildlife Rehabilitation Society (OWL), show signs of being rodenticide poisoned, and some poisonings are fatal. A subset of the deceased individuals get tested for rodenticides and of those about ~74% have residues of at least one rodenticide. This does not mean all the exposed raptors died from rodenticide poisoning. Many of the raptors tested were victims of road mortality, but we cannot rule out that there might be indirect effects from ingesting poison, such as making the raptor feeling unwell and being less responsive and more at risk of getting hit by cars, flying into windows or susceptible to starvation.

What Does the Safe Rodent Control Program Do?

Since 2015, we have helped farmers control rodents in an environmentally sustainable manner. Our goal is to reduce the dependency on chemicals to control rodents both on the farm and in agricultural fields.

This program is a collaboration between many agricultural interest organizations, Simon Fraser University, the cascade nest box building group and Goodnature©.

Nest boxes

With the help of the Cascade nest box group, we have to date installed 105 boxes on farms in the Lower Mainland.


We want to ensure farmers and landowners become knowledgeable on how to most effectively control rodents in a safe manner, minimizing the impact on our local wildlife.


We are currently assessing the effectiveness of using a self-resetting instant kill bolt trap to control voles in berry fields and rats on farms.

How Can I Help?

Prevent Rodent Infestations

Preventive measures such as removal of potential food sources and blocking access to the inside of structures are your first line of defence against rat infestations.

  • Removal of open food sources for pests – keep trash bins tightly closed, clean up refuse, remove pet food, spilled birdseed and fallen fruit.
  • Block possible access to the inside of structures, seal cracks and crevices going into your home, use ¼ inch metal mesh (not chicken wire) to block entry points.
  • Keep grass short within 1m surrounding your house and trim foliage and tree limbs from the sides and roof of the house.

Use Natural Rodent Control

If you live on acreage and you have grass fields, consider installing a Barn Owl nest box to attract a pair of Barn Owls.

To the extent possible, avoid the use of rodenticides. Anticoagulant rodenticides should only be used as a last temporary resort and the application should carefully follow the instructions on the product label.

Additional Information

Vole and Pocket Gopher Control

Read More

Best Management Practices - Urban Rat Control


Barn Owls in BC Website

Read More

Raptors are the Solution

Read More

Health Canada Use Restrictions

Read More

Responsible Rodenticide Use

Read More