July 17, 2020
Bobcat and Rodenticide Update
As discussed at last week’s Town Council meeting, there have been at least six deaths of Kiawah bobcats in the last year as a result of rodenticide poisoning and one additional death still pending toxicology testing.
Kiawah’s once healthy bobcat population has declined dramatically in the last few years. Biologists now estimate that fewer than ten bobcats remain on the island, down from a historic population of 30-35. The Town’s initial presumption that SGAs were having an impact on Kiawah’s bobcat population communicated earlier this year has proven true.
As Mayor Weaver addressed yesterday, because local regulations are not an option, we need your help to solve this problem. While the Town and the Kiawah Conservancy are working on a multi-faceted strategy to address this issue, here is how you can help immediately:
Eliminate the Toxic Foursome
Tell your pest control provider not to use second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGAs) on your property. These include:
If you do your own pest control, check the active ingredient on the label to make sure you are not using any of the active ingredients above.
Pest control companies are required to disclose the active ingredient in all pesticides they are using. Ask your pest control provider to provide in writing what they are using on your property.
Become a Bobcat Guardian – Coming Soon
Help save Kiawah’s bobcats by signing the pledge to become a Bobcat Guardian. Guardians commit not to use SGAs on their property to help protect our remaining bobcat population. Residents, business partners, and pest control companies will all be able to sign the pledge and become a Guardian. All Bobcat Guardians will be featured on the Town’s website. Look for additional information on this program next week.
Rethink Your Control Strategy
Use Integrated Pest Management to address rodent problems:
- Identify specific rodent problems and locations by doing a thorough survey of the property. Only take action if a problem exists. Seeing a rodent in your yard is not a rodent problem.
- Use non-chemical methods of rodent control (eliminate food/water sources, exclude rodents from structures by sealing exterior holes and cracks, use traps).
- Pesticides should only be used as a last resort for large infestations inside structures. The pesticide should only be applied for a short time (typically 10 days) and then stopped once the problem is resolved.
Know Pesticides – It’s All About Ingredients
If pesticides are necessary, first-generation anticoagulants (warfarin, chlorophacinone, and diphacinone) are better than second-generation anticoagulants but still have secondary effects on wildlife. A better option would be a product that uses bromethalin or cholecalciferol. While these products have significantly lower secondary effects on bobcats and other predators, they are potentially toxic if consumed directly by pets and can only be used inside of a tamper-resistant bait station.
Brand names of products containing these rodenticides are listed below:
- Cholecalciferol – Terad3 Blox, d-Con Pro Bait Station Blocks
- Bromethalin – Tomcat Bait Station Blocks, Victor Fast Kill Refillable Rat Bait Station
Federal law requires that all rodenticide packaging clearly display the active ingredient and instructions for use. Failure to follow the instructions on the label is a violation of state and federal law. Always check the label before using any rodenticide product.
The following four active ingredients are second-generation anticoagulants and should never be used: Brodifacoum, Bromadiolone, Difenacoum, and Difethialone.
The Town cannot regulate or prohibit the use of SGAs. In April, Town Council was prepared to pass an ordinance that would have done this. That action was challenged and legal opinions since have confirmed that South Carolina law broadly prohibits municipalities from enacting local regulations to control pesticide use.
What’s being done:
- The Town and the Kiawah Conservancy have requested a temporary, one-year prohibition on SGA use on Kiawah Island to the SC Department of Pesticide Regulation. This request is currently being evaluated and, if granted, would immediately remove these products from our ecosystem and mitigate any further damage to our bobcat population as well as other wildlife while our community works on a permanent solution to this issue.
- On Monday, July 20, the Town is holding a virtual meeting with interested pest control companies that have a current business license with the Town. The purpose of the meeting is to educate these companies on this issue and seek their input and future cooperation to eliminate the use of SGAs on Kiawah.
- The Town is also working closely with the Department of Pesticide Regulation to increase education and training for local pest control companies.