Poison Free Pledge

Please note for folks who are interested in lawns signs that our colleagues at Friends of Menotomy Rocks Park offer those signs (while these are free, they do ask if possible for donations to defray the cost). You are also welcome to use the design below and have order/purchase your own sign (see sign bottom left):

The poison free pledge is a commitment to live poison free to help keep owls and other wild animals safe.

These businesses and organizations have signed the Poison Free Pledge:

The pledge:

I pledge to only use nontoxic forms of rodent control, and to do my best to remove all attractants such as outdoor food, water, and other things that may be causing rodents to proliferate in a way that humans become irritated by their presence.

For more information, email arlingtonpoisonfreepledge@gmail.com.

Why Sign the Poison Free Pledge?

Rat poisons—also called rodenticides—are one of the leading contributors of death to owls in the wild. While people who use poison to kill rodents are often unaware of the danger to other animals, the effects are nonetheless catastrophic. After a rodent eats poison bait, they often become sluggish and are easy prey. Owls—and many other types of predators—rely on rodents for food but when they eat these poisoned rats and mice, they become sick or die themselves.

One Massachusetts study conducted by Tufts Wildlife Clinic found that anti-coagulant rodenticides were discovered in 96% of the birds of prey tested, with 99% of them testing positive for brodifacoum, the most lethal of this class of poisons. Another 2020 study (also by Tufts Wildlife Clinic) found 100% of the red-tailed hawks they studied had been exposed to SGARs.


A comprehensive study done by WildCare showed that 76 percent of animals tested showed exposure to rodenticides! While our efforts to get the most harmful types of rat poisons removed from shelves are already underway, one of the best things that you as a consumer can do is to simply not support the companies that make these poisons. By voting with your wallet, you remove the incentive for companies to keep producing poisons year after year. 

What Else Can You Do?

The best way to control populations of rodents is to remove what is attracting them. If you see a rat in your yard once in a while, a little tolerance goes a long way. Removing their food sources (fruit trees, open garbage, wood piles, etc) is the best way to naturally reduce their presence without using poison, or even needing to resort to lethal methods. Since rats and mice have a relatively short natural life span, simply removing what is causing them to proliferate is a winning strategy and has the smallest environmental footprint. For more information, see this page on nontoxic rodent control.

This was a young rat that was dying of rodenticide poisoning on Massachusetts Avenue in the Capitol Square business district (trigger warning: contains sensitive content): 

It was the middle of the day with heavy foot traffic. Poisoned rats like this are more likely to come close to humans and make easy prey for young birds of prey and other wildlife just learning to hunt or parent wildlife with young in the nest or den. Poisoned rats are also significantly more likely to contain and T spread diseases like E.coli and leptospirosis, according to the latest research (Urban rat exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides and zoonotic infection risk).