VICTORIA -- The District of Saanich is banning the use of anticoagulant rodenticides, also known as rat poison, from municipal facilities.

The municipality decided to ban the use of rat poison due to environmental and humane concerns at a council meeting Monday.

Saanich says that the use of anticoagulant rodenticides leads to the painful deaths of animals and often impacts wildlife that are not the intended targets of the rat poison.

For example, small animals can access rat poison traps, and larger animals that prey on rats can become poisoned by eating rats that have ingested anticoagulant rodenticides, which causes death through internal bleeding.

Councillors added that the effects of rat poisoning can actually lead to an increase in rat populations, which goes against the product’s overall goal.

“A single owl eats around 3 rats per night, approximately 1,000 per year,” reads a motion submitted to Saanich council by councillors Ned Taylor and Colin Plant.

“By allowing the use of anticoagulant rodenticides to control rats, we are killing off their natural predators through secondary poisoning and helping the rat population to grow overall.”

Councillors say they would have enacted the ban for all properties across the district, if they had the power to do so.

Issuing a ban on anticoagulant rodenticides for retailers and residents would require support from the B.C. government, says the District of Saanich.

Moving forward, the municipality says it will call on the B.C. government to ban anticoagulant rodenticides across the province and will focus on educating Saanich residents on alternative pest deterrents.

“We don’t have the ability to just simply ban the sale of this product in all of Saanich,” said Coun. Plant at the meeting Monday.

“That being said, I do want to invite the public who are hearing about this story and local businesses to join us. There’s nothing that requires people to sell anticoagulant rodenticides (and) there are better products available,” he said.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes also voiced support for the rat poison ban Monday.

“I’m so pleased that Saanich staff has stepped up to recognize how (this ban) can be implemented and that Saanich has stepped up to raise its voice for our wildlife,” he said.