Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Conservation Warden Warns: Fly bait to control wild animals - illegal and a bad idea

News Release Published: March 19, 2007 by the South Central Region

Contact(s): Jeff King, Conservation Warden, Darlington (608) 482-2263
Chuck Horn, Warden Supervisor, Dodgeville (608) 935-1931

DARLINGTON - A recent case involving a deadly mixture of fly bait and liquid to poison wild animals has prompted Department of Natural Resources conservation warden Jeff King to caution people about the illegal use of pesticides.

Earlier this month, a person was found guilty in Lafayette County Circuit Court of illegally using bait contaminated with poison in an attempt to kill raccoons. The defendant was ordered to pay a $186.00 forfeiture.

The defendant used a liquid mixed with Malrin, a common fly bait sold over the counter. The active ingredient in Malrin, a legal product when used to kill flies, is a chemical called methomyl, which is a highly toxic carbamate pesticide.

"There's no doubt this stuff is toxic," emphasized warden King. "Product labels warn to keep it away from children. It is harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin."

"And not only is it unsafe for people to handle in its packaged form, the label specifically warns against mixing it with a liquid, that its toxic to fish and birds and could leak into the water supply if spilled," added the warden.

Farmers have long used Malrin to kill flies in the barn, but in recent years DNR has investigated reports of persons in southwest Wisconsin using a fly bait/soda can mixture to kill bothersome raccoon, skunk and opossum.

"This was the first legal case involving the intentional use of fly bait mixed with a liquid to poison wild animals brought before the Lafayette County Circuit Court in the five years I've been here," reported warden King.

The warden began investigating this case in December, 2006, when it was reported that a person had placed a tray on an animal trail in an open field on his farm. This tray contained fly bait mixed with liquid and had a blue kool aid like appearance. Nearby, lay a dead skunk, which only got a matter of feet before dying after ingesting the toxin.

"This clearly points out how lethal this mixture is and how quickly it acts on the nervous system," said the warden.

The farm owner admitted that he had a raccoon problem and was trying to get rid of them. "But the problem with this tactic is that fly bait mixture will kill any animal that drinks it, including pets," noted warden king.

Dog deaths in Iowa and Green Counties have been attributed to fly bait mixture in recent years and a Green County woman was cited for illegal use of a pesticide in 2005 in a case stemming from the death of a chocolate lab. She had mixed fly bait with soda pop to kill nuisance raccoons on her farm.

Chuck Horn, warden supervisor at Dodgeville, cautioned that the fly bait/soda pop mixture produces a blue color and gives off a fishy smell, "which may be the reason raccoons are drawn to it, but there's also the possibility that it could attract children."

"In a Tupperware dish it looks like blue kool-aid or a melted popsicle, which is really scary," said warden Horn.

Both wardens point out that raccoons, fox, coyote, rabbit, squirrel and woodchuck can be hunted or trapped on a person's own property at any time of the year without any special permit or license. However, people taking these animals must follow local ordinances covering the placement of traps or discharging of firearms.

"If a person doesn't have the means to handle a nuisance animal problem themselves, there are commercial animal control specialists who can assist in these matters," said warden King.

The Wisconsin Trappers Association (WTA) also has a Nuisance Wild Animal Control Program. The WTA has professional, private trappers around the state who are willing to work with landowners to manage their nuisance wild animal problems.

Warden supervisor Horn said DNR is looking to produce a poster alerting people to the danger of the fly bait mixture for display at farm supply cooperatives and vendors.

For more information on controlling nuisance animals, call your local conservation warden, refer to the Wisconsin Hunting Regulations pamphlet, or contact the WTA.