poison

Last year we heard about controversial government plans to use extremely toxic rodenticides to eradicate rodents and mongooses from wilderness areas throughout Hawaii.

USDA Wildlife Services is now asking the EPA for a permit to test the poison chlorophacinone at the environmentally sensitive Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Hawaii Island to see how well it kills mice, and to see what else it kills.

The comment period for this Experimental Use Permit ends January 17, but the Wildlife Services is not making the details of their permit available without a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which won’t be processed until after the comment period ends.

Even without details, PTA is the wrong place for this experiment.

ptaFifteen bird species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act are found at PTA, along with the endangered Hawaiian Petrel, Hawaiian Hoary Bat, Hawaiian Hawk, and Hawaiian Goose. Game birds, pigs, sheep, and goats are at PTA. All are threatened by this poison.

Insects are threatened, too. The endangered yellow-faced bees and Cydia mamane codling moths are at PTA. These moths are required for the survival of the endangered palila bird, which must feed on the larvae of the moths.

How plants and insects react to the poison is unknown. It is extremely toxic to birds and mammals, causing internal bleeding. It is a painful, drawn-out death, not only to rodents and other animals who directly eat it, but also to anything that eats poisoned prey. Hunters may get poisoned game.

Beneath PTA is newly discovered pristine groundwater, and chlorophacinone is a known water contaminant.

After the poisoning, more rodents will move back in, so more poison will be needed.

Rodents can be a problem. But testing poisons at PTA is not the answer. To comment on this poisoning, go to NoPoisonHawaii.org.

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Sydney Ross Singer is a medical and environmental anthropologist, author, and director of the Good Shepherd Foundation, located on the Big Island. Sydney is a pioneer of applied medical anthropology, and he is also the director of the Institute for the Study of Culturogenic Disease.