The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

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The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Jenise » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:44 pm

...like salmon, just for instance. Sent to me by a friend; I have no idea who takepart.com is.

Toke This: The Unexpected Effect of California’s Pot Farm Explosion on Wildlife

By Tracy Ross | Takepart.com

Medical marijuana may be California’s next gold rush, with farmers tending to valuable plants worthy of sale by real-life Nancy Botwins. In just one remote 37-square-mile patch of forest in Northern California, for instance, researchers conducting aerial surveys recently counted 281 outdoor pot farms and 286 greenhouses, containing an estimated 20,000 pot plants. The crop, say proponents, helps patients suffering with everything from arthritis to leukemia (and multiple self-diagnosed ADD-sufferers this writer knows to “focus better to clean the house”).
But recently, several California wildlife researchers reported that pot farms are wreaking havoc on wildlife ranging from endangered salmon to black bears to a rare Northern California weasel called the Pacific fisher.

“There are [growers] that care,” Scott Bauer told TakePart, “who are doing things like capturing winter flows [to offset their need for siphoned water]. But this activity is so large that it’s not enough. There are people coming from all over America to grow marijuana. They’re here to get in on the action—the so-called Green Rush. But when it’s legalized and the bottom drops out, they’ll be gone and we’ll be left with the problem.”

In a recent L.A. Times story, scientists said that grow ops near just one small tributary of the Eel River were siphoning up to 18 million gallons of water from the river’s watershed. That water is crucial for species like the endangered Coho salmon as well as Chinook Salmon and steelhead, all of which swim up the Eel tributaries to spawn. According to Scott Bauer, the state scientist in charge of the Coho salmon recovery on California's North Coast for the Department of Fish and Game, both juvenile Coho and Chinook spend a year or two in a stream before beginning their long swims back to the Pacific Ocean. California is currently in a drought, says Bauer, which is already contributing to stream dry-up. Add in pot farm siphoning, and Bauer says, he is “getting reports, almost daily, that fish are dying.”

Yet water siphoning is just one impact of the California cannabis boom. The L.A. Times also reports that growers are guilty of several other infractions normally associated with logging, mining, or drilling. “With little or no oversight, farmers have illegally mowed down timber, graded hilltops flat for sprawling greenhouses, dispersed poisons and pesticides, drained streams and polluted watersheds,” reports the paper. “Growers are pumping pollutants like fertilizers, soil amendments, miticides, rodenticides, fungicides, plant hormones, diesel fuel, human waste into the watershed.”

Mark Higley, a wildlife biologist on the Hoopa Indian Reservation, told the Times that growers have been using a particularly lethal form of pesticide, called Carbuforan, to kill bears and other animals that raid their camps. Deadly to humans in small doses, the pesticide requires a special permit from the EPA. “But [the growers] are mixing it up with tuna or sardines and the bears eat that and they die,” Higley said.
TakePart was unable to find the exact number of bears that have succumbed to the poison. But we’ve learned that the Pacific fisher, a rare forest carnivore and smaller cousin of the wolverine, may have been hit even harder.

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, told the L.A. Times that the weasel-like animals were probably eating rodenticides that marijuana growers use to keep animals from gnawing on their plants. They reported that 46 of 58 fisher carcasses they analyzed had rat poison in their systems. Mourad W. Gabriel, a scientist at the University of California, Davis, told The New York Times that the contamination began when marijuana growers in deep forests spread d-Con to protect their plants from wood rats. Scientists have also found d-Con in at least two endangered spotted owls.

From the sound of it, there’s no end in sight to the assault on the environment and wildlife by the new agribusiness. Which is ironic given many pot smokers’ (and growers’) professed love of all things wild.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Fred Sipe » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:04 pm

Just another of the many reasons to make it legal and regulate various aspects. Perhaps an unpopular opinion but I think it would solve more problems than it might create.
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:50 pm

All sorts of issues are going on up here in the hills west of us. People who live and own property are afraid for their lives. Service repair folks are refusing to go into some areas because they are afraid of the pot growers. You don't want to accidentally stroll near one of the pot fields if out hiking or just out for a long walk in the woods.
Trying to sell your home and property is out of the question because no one is going to buy up there.
Frankly, the bad guys are winning.
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Jenise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:20 am

Fred Sipe wrote:Just another of the many reasons to make it legal and regulate various aspects. Perhaps an unpopular opinion but I think it would solve more problems than it might create.


I was one of the majority here in WA who voted for legalization. I have no skin in the game either way, but keeping it illegal was clearly way too much work and made too many foreign cartels powerful and prosperous. Better this way, though of course like everything there will be growing pains.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Jenise » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:27 am

Karen/NoCA wrote:All sorts of issues are going on up here in the hills west of us. People who live and own property are afraid for their lives. Service repair folks are refusing to go into some areas because they are afraid of the pot growers. You don't want to accidentally stroll near one of the pot fields if out hiking or just out for a long walk in the woods.
Trying to sell your home and property is out of the question because no one is going to buy up there.
Frankly, the bad guys are winning.


You have a local problem and I understand that, but the huge problem we as a country have had with the borders and inner city drug-dealing gangs has been a ridiculously expensive problem that we've never managed to control--the bad guys were definitely winning there. I'd rather we try to control it this way for a change. Demand, however, might be greater than any of us thought.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Lou Kessler » Wed Jul 31, 2013 8:56 pm

The war on drugs has been going on for many years and govt forces are loosing that war at an accelerated pace. When something is a colossal failure and actually gets worse I know I'm for a different approach.
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Aug 01, 2013 12:30 am

Our lab's done a lot of work on exposure to rat poison in animals in the pot growing areas. It appears that the illegal growers are using large amounts of rat poison around their plants. Of course, a number of different types of rodents will eat the poison, and then get eaten by other animals either while in an incapacitated state or dead. Fishers (weasel-like animals) in the area have apparently been hit particularly hard by this. Given that they were already a candidate for being listed as an endangered species, this is probably not a good thing.

As it is, when we test the major predators - raptors, mountain lions, bobcats, etc. - for these types of poisons, we virtually always find that they've been exposed. Usually not to levels that would be lethal in the animal, but no one knows what the effects are of lower level exposures.

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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:38 pm

Lou Kessler wrote:The war on drugs has been going on for many years and govt forces are loosing that war at an accelerated pace. When something is a colossal failure and actually gets worse I know I'm for a different approach.

I know this sounds like conspiracy theory and I guess it is but it all really depends on what the real purpose is for the war on drugs. Considering the decades that its been going on and the billions spent one has to wonder what is the primary metrics those in charge are using to evaluate success or failure. Assuming that they are which could be a wrong assumption.
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Lou Kessler » Thu Aug 01, 2013 3:49 pm

No offense, but you asked more questions than answers given. So I guess I'm still stuck with my own unprofessional observation which points to a war long lost.
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Re: The (possible) effect of pot growing on CA wildlife

Postby Brian Gilp » Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:30 pm

Sorry Lou, I don't have answers. And no offense taken. I have read some regarding how the war on drugs is anything but what it proclaims and in a poorly worded way was attempting to say that maybe there are other purposes for the war on drugs than what is stated. That is all. But as noted before when one starts to suggest that the war on drugs may not actually be about drugs it generally gets labeled as conspiracy theory and disregarded.
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