California officials may ban the sale of some super-toxic rat poisons to consumers on July 1, a California Superior Court judge in San Diego ruled Friday.
Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of d-CON rat poison, had sued to stop the consumer ban, but Judge William S. Dato decided in favor of the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
The poisons, known as second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, have been found in a variety of wildlife, including cougars, barn owls, coyotes, bobcats and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. Children and family pets have also been accidentally poisoned.
The poisons are produced by 17 manufacturers.
In an effort to protect wildlife, the pesticide agency passed a regulation in March that would ban the sale of the poisons to consumers as of July 1.
The department said it would be safer to have certain products used only by trained professionals rather than consumers.
Reckitt Benckiser had argued that the new regulation would "unnecessarily put Californians at an increased public health risk from rodent infestation and place a greater financial burden on families and individuals who cannot afford professional pest control services."
The department "is pleased to have prevailed in the court hearing," said Brian Leahy, the agency's director.
No date has been set for the trial.
Rat poisons, in wide use in parks, schools and homes, are designed to kill rodents by thinning the blood and preventing clotting. Many people who set bait traps do not realize that the poisons work their way up the food chain, researchers say.