by Ed Stannard, The Hartford Courant

Rats and mice are a problem throughout Connecticut, but as exterminators use sophisticated poisons to control their populations, eagles, hawks and owls are among the victims, environmental and raptor-rehabilitation experts say.

Because so-called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are so deadly and so easily ingested by raptors and mammals such as foxes, opossums, squirrels, dogs and cats, legislation will be introduced this session to ban or limit them in Connecticut. They already are banned in California.

A similar bill passed the Environment Committee last year, but did not make it to a vote.

“Basically, the poison ends up getting into that food chain for a period of time and causing cascading damage to other animals,” said Chris Phelps, state director of Environment Connecticut in West Hartford.

“The primary concern that people are recognizing and seeing happening on a regular basis are poisonings and deaths of eagles, hawks, owls, raptors and birds that feed on mice to begin with,” he said.

“But also you have risks to household pets, dogs that might be very curious about these traps outside that they find and if they were to get into that place it would harm the animal.”

“We just think that harming and killing the animals who naturally regulate rodent populations, such as raptors and mammals, makes no sense for Connecticut in terms of managing rats and mice,” said Nicole Rivard, editor in chief of Friends of Animals in Darien.

“There’s plenty of data out there to show that, like any kind of poison, a rodenticide is not the most effective way to manage the population anyways, because if you don’t address exclusion and sanitation, they’re just going to return,” she said. A mouse can enter a house through a hole the size of a dime, she said.

“The pesticide companies who are using these poisons, like bait boxes, are not going to talk about that because this is their bread and butter. They want to have to keep coming back to replace the bait boxes because that’s how they make their money,” she said.