After watching their dog die ‘a painful death,’ owners want ban on strychnine used by Sask., Alta. farmers


Kyle MacLintock and Erika Schuurmans have been internet hosting a barbecue in June 2017 on their rural acreage in a picturesque valley in Indian Head, Sask., when their dog Roo broke into seizures.

They rushed to an emergency vet — 70 kilometres west in Regina — and gave Roo CPR within the automotive, nevertheless it was too late.

“It was fairly horrendous simply to have one thing die in your lap that you just love a lot,” stated Schuurmans.

“I assume it will be simpler to swallow if it had been a medical situation.… To have one thing like a poison be the reason for it and for it to be a painful dying is even tougher to simply accept.”

Exams confirmed Roo died of strychnine poisoning — a registered pesticide that’s solely out there in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Strychnine is used by farmers below provincial oversight to manage the bottom squirrel and northern pocket gopher inhabitants, however Roo’s owners and others want provinces to ban strychnine to be used on gophers as a result of impact it has on different animals — one thing Well being Canada is contemplating.

Strychnine is used below provincial oversight by farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan to manage floor squirrels and northern pocket gophers. (Trent Peppler/CBC)

Casualties embrace foxes, owls

Species, such because the swift fox and burrowing owl, might be poisoned in the event that they eat the bait or gophers which have ingested the pesticide.

For it to be a painful dying is even tougher to simply accept.– Erika  Schuurmans , Roo’s dog proprietor

“Yearly we have now unintentional kills,” stated Gilbert Proulx, director of science at Alpha Wildlife Analysis and Administration Ltd. 

“We’re at some extent now the place farmers should begin to take heed to scientists, who’ve carried out the analysis of these poisons, and give you one thing higher.”

Provincial officers in Alberta are additionally approved to make use of strychnine in particular circumstances to manage giant predators, resembling coyotes, wolves and bears, in keeping with Well being Canada.

However they’ll solely use the pesticide when livestock and threatened wildlife populations, resembling caribou, have been killed or there may be danger to individuals.

A 250 millilitre bottle with a focus of two per cent strychnine might be bought by land owners in rural municipalities. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

In 2007, Proulx reassessed the product for the federal authorities.

He stated he discovered it killed gophers when there have been drought circumstances, however the animals dismissed the baits for different meals as soon as it rained.

“The poison isn’t doing what it’s imagined to do,” stated Proulx. “We’re simply destroying our wildlife communities and we’re dropping our predators.”

A balancing act

In an electronic mail assertion despatched to CBC Information, Alberta’s Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier wrote his authorities is working with Ottawa to make sure farmers have an answer to take care of gophers with no disruption in operations. 

He added his ministry is taking a look at methods to make use of present options to manage gophers extra successfully and to develop everlasting options to handle gopher harm, together with the event of an built-in pest administration technique.

A number of the options farmers at the moment have embrace using different poisons, trapping, fumigation and taking pictures.

We’re simply destroying our wildlife communities and we’re dropping our predators.– Gilbert Proulx , director of science at Alpha Wildlife Analysis and Administration Ltd.

The Saskatchewan authorities maintains strychnine has restricted environmental affect.

It warns the lack of the pesticide might trigger hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in damages by way of crop losses, livestock harm and mortality and management prices, in keeping with an electronic mail assertion.

Gilbert Proulx, director of science at Alpha Wildlife Analysis and Administration Ltd., is anxious concerning the affect strychnine is having on predators that eat gophers. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

“It is a troublesome regulatory name,” stated Dr. Barry Blakley, a veterinarian toxicologist on the Western School of Veterinary Drugs on the College of Saskatchewan.

“It will be good to scale back the variety of strychnine poisonings. But when they put too many restrictions, individuals will use merchandise which can be method too poisonous and can trigger extra issues.” 

The faculty sees roughly one dog poisoning attributable to strychnine each two months, in keeping with Blakley. He stated that interprets to about six to seven instances every year, however they arrive in waves. There are extra poisonings within the springtime when farmers are placing out strychnine baits for the primary time after winter.

Strychnine poisonings that Blakley sees are declining considerably, he stated, due to the rise in use of different rodenticides, resembling anticoagulant, which may trigger bleeding in animals.

He stated farmers are utilizing strychnine much less as a result of they should undergo plenty of paperwork.

The Saskatchewan authorities is anxious about a rise within the reliance of anticoagulant rodenticides, which it stated are extra expensive and labour intensive for farmers to make use of.

The faculty noticed 250 instances of dog poisonings from anticoagulants over the previous 5 years.

Dr. Barry Blakley examines animals for strychnine poisoning as a veterinarian toxicologist on the College of Saskatchewan. (Chanss Lagaden/CBC)

Jim Hipkins’s hayfields are affected by gopher holes in Lumsden, Sask., about 32 kilometres north of Regina. 

“If individuals have been to play golf right here, they’d be dropping their balls on a regular basis,” Hipkins stated.

“The gopher is a really cheeky animal. He stands up and grins at you, however he is an actual menace.”

‘Who’s going to win? The farmer or the gopher?’

His weapon of selection comes within the type of a shiny pink liquid with a focus of two per cent strychnine.

“It appears to be one of many few merchandise that we will get hold of to wage struggle with these gophers,” Hipkins stated.

“In some instances, it turns into who’s going to win? The farmer or the gopher? And typically the gopher wins!”

The gopher is a really cheeky animal. He stands up and grins at you, however he is an actual menace.– Jim Hipkins , farmer

He purchased 5 bottles this 12 months from his rural municipality for $10 every.

“We want it to stay the identical and even be a tiny bit stronger,” stated Hipkins. “If it was stronger and we received a greater kill off the bat, you could use much less.”

Farmer Jim Hipkins makes use of strychnine on his property in Lumsden, Sask., which is positioned 30 kilometres north of Regina, to guard harm to his farm tools and accidents to his calves. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Requires extra enforcement, coaching, interactive map

Well being Canada’s public session about using strychnine on gophers is open till Sept. 27.

MacLintock and Schuurmans have already submitted their opinions.

They’re calling for obligatory strychnine coaching, extra enforcement and an interactive on-line map to indicate the place baits are positioned.

Moreover, they do not want to see the product out there in a liquid type anymore. They want to see it bought pre-mixed with the correct focus positioned on oats or one other bait particular to gophers.

Dozens of gopher holes litter Hipkins’s hayfields. (Mike Zartler/CBC)

They nonetheless do not know who positioned strychnine on their property in order that they’ve put in video surveillance to guard their new dog, Hercules. 

“The hazard is actual,” stated MacLintock, who suspects one other one among their canine additionally died of strychnine poisoning in fall 2016. “It occurred to have an effect on us very a lot.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

19 + twenty =