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Strychnine use extended for Sask. farms

Farmers in Saskatchewan will be allowed to use strychnine to control gophers again in the first half of 2009.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has approved the province’s application to extend emergency registration of two per cent liquid strychnine to July 31, 2009.

“Gopher damage to crop and forage land in many parts of Saskatchewan has been extensive,” provincial Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud said in a release Thursday. “Until we find a long-term solution for gophers, producers need access to effective control products.”

Bjornerud cited help from federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and southwestern Saskatchewan MP David Anderson in getting the federal approval. The province will have the option to apply for another extension when this one expires.

Farmers who are looking for access to strychnine can contact their local R.M. office, the province said.

Saskatchewan has 171 rural municipalities (R.M.s) eligible to distribute strychnine to their farmer residents. R.M.s can apply to distribute strychnine by sending a letter to Saskatchewan’s agriculture ministry, indicating farmers in an R.M. have experienced significant crop and/or forage loss to gophers.

“We knew it was going to take more than one year to manage the gopher population and therefore we appreciate the continued recognition of the problem by both the federal and provincial governments,” said David Marit, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities and a councillor for the R.M. of Willow Bunch, in the province’s release.

Anderson noted in the province’s release that he’s been working on the strychnine issue for “several years” now.

Farmers who bought and used strychnine and other gopher control products between Aug. 1, 2007 and Oct. 1, 2008 have until Jan. 30, 2009 to apply for 50 per cent reimbursement under the provincial gopher control rebate program. R.M.s and First Nations bands are also eligible to apply for the rebate.

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