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Sask. rural community group opposes proposed strychnine ban

Health Canada is conducting public consultation on its website on the use of strychnine to kill ground squirrels, commonly known as gophers, until Sept. 27.
Health Canada is conducting public consultation on its website on the use of strychnine to kill ground squirrels, commonly known as gophers, until Sept. 27. Gary Kazanjian / AP Photo

An organization that represents rural communities in Saskatchewan is urging the federal government not to ban the use of the deadly pesticide strychnine on farms.

Health Canada is conducting public consultation on its website on the use of strychnine to kill ground squirrels, commonly known as gophers, until Sept. 27.

Ottawa is proposing the ban because the poison can also kill other animals, including species at risk such as the swift fox and the burrowing owl.

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities says strychnine is the best way to kill gophers, which can seriously damage crops and pasture.

Ray Orb, the association’s president, says it opposes the ban and wants the public consultation time extended.

Orb says there are already strict controls on the use of strychnine.

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“We believe it is the safest product than can be used for Richardson’s ground squirrels,” Orb said Wednesday.

“We believe that rural ratepayers are being environmentally responsible and there are lots of checks and balances where we can show it is safe to use and it is very effective.”

The Saskatchewan government has said it will pay close attention to the federal consultation when the results are released later this year.

Some farmers in Alberta also use strychnine to kill gophers to protect crops and livestock.

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