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A Day In Teh Strife

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Grasshopper  created this post 14 months ago

 

Article Below Reprinted in full – Eureka Times Standard

 

POT FARM POISON

Study: Pot grows likely culprit in mammal deaths

Thadeus Greenson

THE TIMES-STANDARD

Potent rat poisons used on large­scale illegal marijuana farms sprinkled through forest lands throughout the state may be killing off a rare forest carnivore, according to a groundbreaking study released Friday.

“This could be a game changer,” said Arcata City Councilman Mark Wheetley of the study pro­duced by biologists from Universi­ty of California Davis document­ing the deaths of fishers, reclusive members of the Mustelid family that are candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act. “I think this whole study should serve as a wake up call for the pub­lic to understand the magnitude of the impact of what’s being done to what we consider sacred, protected public lands,” continued Wheetley, who holds a day job as a senior biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Law enforcement and environ­mental officials have long com­plained of the environmental degradation associated with large­scale marijuana cultivation on for­est lands. But the evidence has been almost exclusively anecdotal, limited to stories of diverted streams, networks of irrigation piping, piles of trash and large amounts of commercial fertilizers, insecticides and rodenticides.

The study released Friday docu­ments the scientific data behind the stories for the first time, quan­tifying the environmental impacts of illicit grows.

Mourad Gabriel, lead author of the study and president of Blue Lake’s Integral Ecology Research Center, said the study sprang from efforts to identify and study threats to California’s fisher populations. Because the reclusive forest preda­tors live in coniferous and hard­wood forests — mostly forest, park and tribal lands — far away from urban population centers or agri­cultural fields, Gabriel said researchers were shocked to find





Fishers — members of the Mustelid family — are reclusive carnivores that inhabit remote coniferous and hardwood forests and are candidates for listing as federal endangered species. The weasel-like critters are being poisoned by rodenticide from illegal marijuana gardens, a study released Friday found.

The study found that almost 80 percent of fishers found dead by researchers between 2006 and 2011 had been exposed to high levels of anticoagulant rodenticide — commonly referred to as rat poison.

POT POISON: Such findings come as no shock to law enforcement

they were being poisoned by toxicants at an alarming rate. The study found that almost 80 percent of fishers found dead by researchers between 2006 and 2011 had been exposed to high levels of anticoagulant rodenticide — commonly referred to as rat poison. Because these fishers were being monitored and lived in remote areas, Gabriel said researchers were initially stumped as to what could be the potential exposure points for them.

Then, Gabriel said, it clicked: Researchers realized that all these fishers’ habitats overlapped with illegal mari­juana farms that often used high levels of commercial pesticides and rodenticides to protect their crop. Further, the study notes, all the deaths of exposed fishers occurred between mid-April and mid-May, the optimal time period for planting marijuana out­doors, when growers are most likely to use large amounts of poison to protect their seedlings.

The study describes a grow site discovered by law enforcement less than 7.5 miles from one of the fisher study areas, where large amounts of rodenticide were found sprinkled around plants and lining plastic irri­gation lines, presumably to keep rats from chewing them. The anticoagulant rodenti­cides inhibit mammals’ abili­ty to recycle vitamin K, mak­ing their blood incapable of clotting, leading to uncon­trollable internal bleeding and, ultimately, death. The second-generation poisons can be lethal with a single dose, the study notes, but can take up to a week from inges­tion to be lethal.

Gabriel said some of the rodenticides are treated with “flavorizers” to make the poi­sons taste like bacon, cheese or peanut butter, which could also cause fishers and other animals to eat the poison directly. The most likely — and troubling — conclusion, however, is that the fishers were exposed through their prey: small rodents.

This is a troubling notion for biologists and conserva­tionists for several reasons. First, because fishers have the same prey groups as federally protected, threatened or endangered species like con­dors, spotted owls and martens, those groups may be just as likely to be impact­ed. Second, these poisons could wipe out a whole prey group — wood rats, deer mice and other small scav­enging rodents — in the region, leading to the collapse or partial collapse of a food chain.

Rodenticides, however, are far from the only troubling items found at illicit marijua­na growing sites. In a separate paper, Gabriel and others outline what they found dur­ing a brief visit to an aban­doned marijuana garden in one of their fisher project areas. In addition to pounds of rodenticide, they reported finding 575 pounds of fertil­izer, including 200 pounds of fertilizers with 46 percent nitrogen levels, 24 pounds of slug bait and 32 ounces of Malathion, a potent pesti­cide.

Such findings come as no shock to law enforcement.

Humboldt County Sheriff ’s Office Sgt. Wayne Hansen, who currently heads the county drug task force and has spent years heading mar­ijuana eradication efforts for the county, said the large­scale grows believed to be tied to drug trafficking organiza­tions — the ones most likely to be on remote public lands — often utilize huge amounts of poisons and fer­tilizers, in addition to divert­ing streams and clear-cutting swaths of forest.

Gabriel said his study sim­ply brushes the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The next step for him and fellow researchers, Gabriel said, is to look at whether the use of rodenticides at grow sites on public lands is depleting the prey pool for fishers and other carnivores. But, Gabriel said, there are a tremendous amount of questions associ­ated with these growing operations that warrant sci­entific attention, including the impacts of pesticides, fer­tilizers and stream diversions. The hope, Gabriel said, is that his study and the ones that follow help inform the dis­cussion.

One thing for sure is that the study is already getting loads of attention, having cir­culated through some profes­sional circles before its public release Friday.

Tommy Lanier, director of the White House-funded National Marijuana Initia­tive, said Friday he’s very familiar with the fisher study and hopes it will serve to edu­cate the public about some of the ancillary impacts of the marijuana market. To that end, Lanier said, he’s trying to get Sen. Barbara Boxer, who heads the U.S. Senate Com­mittee on the Environment and Public Works, to hold a congressional hearing on ille­gal marijuana cultivation on public lands. He said he plans on asking Gabriel to come back and address Congress.

“The environmental im­pacts are huge and have to be a huge part of the discus­sion,” Lanier said. “(This study) is a great example of some of the effects.”

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About humboldtkids

I am not interested in giving my name at this time because the subject matter involves counter-culture and traitors, either of which will have no problem finding out who I am and where I live. If you do not belong to either catagory, the information is much more important than who I am. I will not apologize for the world we live in.
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