While pesticides are known for effectively and quickly removing unwanted pests, they can also contain substances that are harmful to both wildlife and the environment. Sparked by the death of a young mountain lion in Los Angeles due to ingesting rat poison, people began to advocate against the use of pesticides. After great debate and rallying among the community, the Malibu City Council has voted unanimously to ban pesticide use in public spaces.
The movement to eliminate pesticides from Malibu started when mountain lion P-34 was found dead by a hiker in 2012. Scientists ran tests and confirmed the death of the young and healthy animal was linked to rat poison. Even though scientists had strong suspicions that rodenticides had been responsible for previous deaths of mountain lions, nothing had been done to prevent pesticide use and preventable deaths. This prompted the creation of Poison Free Malibu, whose original mission was to ban rodenticides to protect wildlife. According to them, rodenticides can affect animals, including mountain lions and bobcats, higher up the food chain even though the animal did not directly consume the rodenticide. If a rodent consumes the rodenticide and an animal consumes the poisoned rodent, then the animal is poisoned in turn. At first, the founder campaigned by going door-to-door to several businesses and asking them to stop selling the destructive rodenticides. Eventually, she teamed up with two other members of the Malibu Agricultural Society to further campaign against all pesticides.
The campaigning finally reached two city council members, which led to the passing of a resolution that proposed restrictions on pesticide use, utilized green planning in regards to pesticides, and safer alternatives to rodenticides. While this provided an obstruction to pesticides, this did not completely ban pesticides from being used. After the California Coastal Commission banned all use of pesticides in the Santa Monica Mountains in 2014, Poison Free Malibu urged the city council to implement the same concept. While the pesticide ban was accepted by the City Council, the ban was put on hold.
However, while the hold was placed, the local community continued to campaign against pesticides, such as RoundUp and SpeedZone. They claim the ingredient in both pesticides, which kills pests, is both harmful for living creatures and the environment. After providing testimonies, the activists were thrilled to hear from city officials in June of 2016; they officially plan to ban all pesticides from city property in Malibu. While the program has yet to be implemented, city officials are planning to hold another meeting to determine the costs and logistics towards a pesticide-free Malibu.
Does your community condemn or encourage the use of pesticides? How have pesticides affected the wildlife in your local area? Share your thoughts and your city’s stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Sophia Huynh.