Strychnine Availability

And its gone again….

In case you missed it during COVID, the Re-evaluation Decision for the use of Strychnine for Richardson Ground Squirrel control came out on March 4, 2020. There was 60 days from the time of the decision to make a scientific based objection to the decision (Page 2 of the Re-evaluation Decision).

On April 1, 2020 Alberta Environment sent a Notice to Counties and Municipal Districts regarding the removal of vender registrations for Strychnine sold for RGS control and the timelines for sales to end.

The Proposed Re-evaluation Decision (PRVD2018-13) was released in June 2018 and there was a 90 day public consultation period which ended September 27, 2018. There were 9280 comments collected during this time and details of the concerns and Health Canada’s responses to those concerns are included in the appendices of the Re-evaluation Decision document. As stated in the Re-evaluation Decision released March 4, 2020 “These comments and new data/information did not result in revisions to the risk assessments.”

I would draw your attention to Appendix II, section 2.1. It seems that a steering committee representing a variety of stakeholders was put together to help with the Re-evaluation decision. This group then accessed funds from various western Canadian agriculture associations to conduct the studies used in the evaluation. Alpha Wildlife Research and Management Ltd. was contracted to conduct the study and so their findings carried weight with the steering committee and informed the Re-evaluation decision.

Looking for the Integrated Pest Management recommendations that came from the work of this committee where developed into fact sheets in most of the western provinces and are available on provincial government websites, found easily with a Google search. The greatest risk posed to using Strychnine for RGS control seems to be the death of non target species and the potential risk to species at risk.

The challenge going forward with getting Strychnine re-registered for RGS will be to find sufficient scientific evidence that the risk to non target species is low, and that there are no other alternatives. A study of the alternative technologies and how they can be adapted for western Canada may be a better approach.

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