Newbury Votes Unanimously to Ban Dangerous Rodent Poisons on Town-Owned Properties
February 01, 2024
The Newbury select board voted unanimously to ban the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) on town-owned property. The decision to ban this dangerous class of rodent poisons was in direct response to a petition from members of Save Newbury Wildlife, a volunteer-run advocacy group that is participating in Mass Audubon’s statewide effort to restrict SGARs.
SGARs are a class of rodent poisons that kill animals by preventing blood from clotting. When predators eat rodents that have consumed SGARs, they ingest the poison which often proves fatal.
“SGARS break the natural cycle of predators and prey, sickening and killing off the raptors and animals that keep the rodent population in check,” said Carolyn Casey, co-founder of Save Newbury Wildlife. “These poisons work their way up the wildlife food chain and can also affect pets and children.”
The New England Wildlife Center reports treating hundreds of hawks, owls, coyotes, and other predators for critical SGAR poisoning every year, while the MSCPA Angell Veterinary Center treats dozens of domestic dogs and cats. Newbury residents have been enraged by these statistics and motivated to act.
Kathleen Downey, co-founder of Save Newbury Wildlife, said “While walking my dog on the grounds of Newbury Town Library, we came across poison bait boxes. Upon learning these boxes contained the deadliest of rodenticides known as SGARs, responsible for gruesome deaths in both the intended rodent targets and in their natural predators, I became committed to eliminating these poisons from our environment.”
Public outrage about the impacts of SGARS led Mass Audubon to launch a statewide initiative to support local groups like Save Newbury Wildlife that are working to reduce the use of these poisons.
“Rat poisons are devastating Massachusetts wildlife, and reducing their use is critical for the biodiversity of our state,” said Heather Packard, Mass Audubon’s Community Organizer. “That’s why we’re working to support and amplify local campaigns to eliminate these poisons in communities all over Massachusetts.”
Mass Audubon’s Rescue Raptors program is providing education, resources, and guidance to volunteers across the state who are working to reduce the use of SGARs. Any Massachusetts resident who is interested in joining the movement can sign up at massaudubon.org/rescueraptors.
In Newbury, a ban on SGARs on town-owned property is just the beginning. Nicole Bloor, Save Newbury Wildlife’s co-founder, discussed the group’s plans: “We are submitting a citizen’s petition that calls for the Town of Newbury to provide education to its citizens and businesses on the hazards posed by SGARs and other poisons and alternatives to their use. In addition, we will submit a citizen’s petition to request a that a home rule petition be filed by the Town of Newbury with the Massachusetts legislature to restrict the use of SGARs on private property.”
Residents of Newbury and surrounding towns who are interested in joining this effort can attend Save Newbury Wildlife’s campaign kickoff meeting on Tuesday, February 6 at 6 pm at the Newbury Town Library and visit savenewburywildlife.org for more information.
About Mass Audubon
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 160,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at massaudubon.org.