USFWS plans poison experiment in Hawaii
USFWS plans poison experiment in Hawaii

Hunters beware! Your game may soon become tainted by a poison experiment up at Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). The USFWS has released it’s long awaited Environmental Assessment (EA) outlining their poison experiment plans, and its clear that hunters, their families, and their dogs are at risk.

Hunters have long considered the Feds a threat. The EA gives good reason for this suspicion. It admits the risk to humans of using these poisons, especially to hunters. “Risk to human health and safety arising from this project would be to personnel involved in the study and to hunters from outside of PTA consuming poisoned game.” p. 17

While the 34-acre test area would be fenced in, that will not prevent birds from eating bait or eating poisoned rodents. These birds may travel away from the test site into areas used by hunters. Research shows that it can take days for birds to die from diphacinone and chlorophacinone poisoning, which are the poisons they want to test at PTA. Game birds may also consume sub-lethal doses that make them easier for hunters to catch. Pigs may get poisoned by eating the carcasses of poisoned rodents and birds.

The USFWS knows this is a problem for hunters, and they try to look accommodating by stating, “The study would be conducted outside the main game bird season, which normally begins on the first Saturday in November and extends through the last Sunday in January. Avoiding the hunting season would eliminate the possibility of hunters interacting with birds that may have ingested rodenticide. (The actual risk to human health from such interactions is very low; this mitigation measure may not be possible in future management actions, as such this should not be seen as precedent.)”  p. 13 (Emphasis added)

Note that hunting does occur at other times of the year, so hunters, their families, and their dogs will be put at risk during other hunting seasons of the year.

What is shocking is that the Feds state that protecting hunters from poison should not be considered a precedent! This means that they may use these poisons in the future, even if they know that it will threaten the safety of hunters and their families by poisoning game. Poisoning mice is apparently more important to the Feds than protecting people from poison.

Smell a rat?

Clearly, hunters are being regarded in the same way as non-target species. The Feds will try to minimize risk, but accepts that some hunters and keiki may consume poisoned birds and mammals. The Feds assure the public that these risks to humans consuming poisoned game are “very low”, but they offer no data or safety studies supporting that claim.  And nobody is offering up their child to be a guinea pig to see how much poison is needed to cause harm.

If you or your dogs consume bait or a poisoned animal, what can these poisons do? According to Cornell University, “Diphacinone is highly toxic to humans and other mammals by inhalation, dermal (skin) absorption, and ingestion. It causes internal hemorrhaging (bleeding) that can lead to death. It acts by inhibiting enzymes involved in blood clotting. Animals given lethal doses exhibited labored breathing, muscular weakness, excitability, fluid in the lungs, and irregular heartbeats. Other signs of poisoning include spitting of blood, bloody urine or stools, internal hemorrhaging, and widespread bruising or bleeding into the joints. When a lethal dose does not cause immediate death, then death tends to be delayed and due to massive hemorrhage.”

Chlorophacinone, the other poison they want to test at PTA, is even stronger and more toxic. And they want to use twice the approved amount of these, which is another part of this experiment. Both poisons take several feedings to kill, so animals can have sub-lethal doses of the stuff and still be toxic to eat. These animals are essentially injured and would also be easier to hunt, increasing the chances of catching poisoned game.

The Feds are not just targeting hunters. The Feds are also willing to poison endangered species and protected migratory birds unlucky enough be at PTA during the poisoning. Hunters, it seems, are just another endangered species they don’t mind harming as they poison the landscape to kill rodents.

The EA is open for comment until May 26, 2017.

The draft EA is here.

Send comments to: PTA_EA_Comments@fws.gov or via mail to: Attn: PTA_EA_Comments, USFWS – Pacific Islands Fish & Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Blvd, Ste. 3-122, Honolulu, HI, 96850

For more, see the website NoPoisonHawaii.org.

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