US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



BioScience 66: 401–407.


U.S. Government Work


Anticoagulant rodenticides, mainly second-generation forms, or SGARs, dominate the global market for rodent control. Introduced in the 1970s to counter genetic resistance in rodent populations to first-generation compounds such as warfarin, SGARs are extremely toxic and highly effective killers. However, their tendency to persist and accumulate in the body has led to the widespread contamination of terrestrial predators and scavengers. Commercial chemicals that are classified by regulators as persistent, bio-accumulative, and toxic (PBT) chemicals and that are widely used with potential environmental release, such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), have been removed from commerce. However, despite consistently failing ecological risk assessments, SGARs remain in use because of the demand for effective rodent-control options and the lack of safe and humane alternatives. Although new risk-mitigation measures for rodenticides are now in effect in some countries, the contamination and poisoning of nontarget wildlife are expected to continue. Here, we suggest options to further attenuate this problem.