+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution ER1-20S

Loss of 2% Strychnine

April 24, 2020
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2023
Active Status:
Cypress County
Incomplete Information
Vote Results:
Carried as Amended

WHEREAS the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has cancelled the registration for 2% Liquid Strychnine for use on Richardson’s Ground Squirrels (RGS) as of March 4, 2020; and

WHEREAS agricultural producers require a product to effectively assist in the control of RGS; and

WHEREAS after March 4, 2023, owning and using strychnine will be illegal and owners/users could face fines;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that Health Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) reinstate the use of 2% Liquid Strychnine on a permanent basis to agricultural producers to utilize on their farms for control of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels (RGS), or that Health Canada and the PMRA provide an alternative solution that produces as effective a result as strychnine in a financially responsible manner for the continued control of RGS. 

Member Background:

Cypress County learned that the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and Health Canada has cancelled the approved use of strychnine to control Richardson’s Ground Squirrels (RGS). The PMRA’s decision is based on anecdotal assumptions, not recent research.

PMRA’s plan is to phase out the product over the next three years, making the product unavailable after March 4, 2021 and fully banned for use after March 4, 2023. There is currently no alternative to control RGS.

RGS (commonly known as gophers) have been a problem to landowners for several years. In the early spring they can destroy a large amount of seeded grain, as they are looking for a source of food and the crop is an enticing option. Producers are faced with a problem in trying to plant any forage crops, as well as native grass, as these are continually being eaten by the gophers. They not only destroy the crops, they dig so many holes that farmers often break machinery and livestock are often injured, causing both farmers and ranchers additional expense.

Several years ago, the Government of Canada allowed landowners to purchase a 2% Liquid Strychnine solution which they could mix with grain and place down gopher holes. This was effective in controlling RGS. Next, the Government of Canada allowed manufacturers to produce a 5% Liquid Strychnine solution for pocket gophers, which was very effective in controlling these pests.

The Government of Canada then restricted the sale of both 2% and 5% strychnine and allowed the manufacturers to produce a pre-mixed feed instead. This was both very expensive and not effective. As a result, the gopher population became out of control resulting in millions of dollars in losses to producers.

Since 2% Liquid Strychnine was reinstated for use in 2001, RGS populations have declined. Dry years with no effective method of control will result in devastating losses.

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

RMA has not received a response to this resolution.


RMA recognizes the ongoing need for tools for farmers to control pest species that impact agricultural information. As RMA has not yet received a response from the advocacy targets identified above, this resolution is assigned the status of Incomplete Information.

Federal Ministries and Bodies:
Agriculture and Agri-Food
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