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New federal rules for strychnine worry councillors

Land owners using strychnine for ground squirrel control have until Sept. 27 to give their feedback on new rules to Health Canada’s Pest Management Control Agency.
There is a proposal to cancel the use of strychnine for gopher control due to effects on non-target animals.
The issue was discussed at the Sept. 12 meeting of the MD of Willow Creek Agricultural Service Board.
The MD of Willow Creek, through the agricultural service board, sells two per cent liquid strychnine for gopher control.
Agricultural fieldman Carla Preachuk said the provincial agricultural services board committee is recommending that instead of banning strychnine, land owners be required to have a farmer pesticide applicator licence.
“I think they are trying to come up with a way to keep it,” Preachuk said, “Their letter says there are no other means of control that are effective.”
The farmer pesticide applicator licence course is about a 10-hour course.
Preachuk said if the municipality had strychnine in stock that was no longer registered due to rule changes there would be a time period to ensure the product is properly used.
Last year the MD of Willow Creek sold 247 cases of the ground squirrel control to 96 producers and this year sold 84 cases to 37 producers.
“We are getting calls on this as the word gets out about this issue,” Preachuk said.
When the strychnine is sold land owners must provide their name, legal land description and sign off that they have been told of the safety application procedures.
Hoarding the product is not encouraged. The product loses its effectiveness if it freezes and must be secure in storage.
An applicator licence and training for strychnine application may help.
There have been a few instances of careless use in the past, Preachuk said, adding horses and dogs have been affected.
In one instance a weakened strychnine mix was put in a soft drink bottle for application and a child drank it.
“The child survived,” Preachuk said, emphasizing training is critical for application so such incidents don’t occur.
Those who would like more information on the issue can go to the Government of Canada Web site to the page entitled, “Consultation on strychnine and its associated end-use products ” and follow the links provided.
If you are interested in providing feedback on the issue by Sept. 27 contact an MD of Willow Creek councillor or Foothills MP John Barlow.

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