Media Releases

‘Huge Victory’ for Wildlife Celebrated by Animal Protection, Environmental Groups as Health Canada Announces Strychnine Poisoning Ban

OTTAWA—Wolf Awareness, WeHowl, Animal Justice, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Humane Society International/Canada (HSI/Canada), and Animal Alliance of Canada are applauding a decision by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to cease the use of the poison strychnine for killing wild animals, including wolves, coyotes, and black bears.

The decision to cancel the registration of products containing this dangerous poison follows years of advocacy and campaigning, including a request for special review of strychnine and other predacides filed by a coalition of groups in December, 2020. Today’s decision reverses  the PMRA’s initial proposal in August 2022 to allow the continued use of both strychnine and Compound 1080. That proposed decision was widely condemned by animal protection and conservation groups because of the cruel nature of these indiscriminate poisons and the serious harm that they cause to the environment.  

Strychnine is notorious for causing some of the most agonizing symptoms of any poison, including muscular convulsions that can last up to 24 hours or longer before an animal finally succumbs to exhaustion or suffocation. Due to its gruesome nature, it featured prominently in Agatha Christie murder mystery novels.

In addition to the unnecessary pain the poison inflicts on its intended targets, it is known to recklessly kill hundreds of non-target animals each year, including companion dogs, birds of prey, and endangered species. These animals suffer and die after consuming poison baits or from consuming the bodies of other poisoned animals.

“This decision is a huge victory for wild animals across Canada,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, director of legal advocacy with Animal Justice. “Strychnine is among the most gruesome poisons in existence. We are thrilled that animals will no longer endure the agony of strychnine poisoning on the Canadian landscape.”   

“Strychnine not only kills the intended wolves, coyotes, black bears and skunks,” said Hannah Barron, conservation director with Wolf Awareness. “It also kills countless other animals unintentionally, including golden eagles, lynx, ravens, grizzly bears and companion dogs, to name a few. Getting rid of this indiscriminate poison gets Canada one step closer to meeting its biodiversity targets under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.” 

“There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that lethal removal of large carnivores, including through poisoning, is not an effective way to reduce predation on livestock,” said Sadie Parr, organizer of WeHowl. “There are more effective ways to prevent conflicts, which are also more ethical and environmentally responsible. Many Canadians are already using such methods with success.”

“Canada’s use of strychnine to kill wildlife is an issue that attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens in Canada and beyond. We are thrilled that Health Canada has reversed their previous decision, and finally canceled all uses of strychnine” said Sheryl Fink, director of Canadian wildlife issues with IFAW. 

“I want to thank the Minister of Health and the folks at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency for banning the use of strychnine in Canada,” said Liz White, director of Animal Alliance of Canada. “No longer will this predacide be spread on the landscape indiscriminately killing wolves, coyotes, and many other wild animals.”

“We are thrilled with Health Canada’s decision to ban this deplorable poison, which has no place in wildlife management,” said Kelly Butler, wildlife campaign manager at Humane Society International/Canada. “This ban will spare so many animals from horrific, prolonged, and needless deaths, and we commend the government for taking this step towards improving welfare outcomes for wildlife and removing poisons from Canada’s ecosystems.”

While the animal protection and environmental groups are relieved following PMRA’s decision to end the use of strychnine by September, it remains urgent for the PMRA to also ban Compound 1080, another poison also used to kill wolves and coyotes. It causes vomiting, convulsions, intense pain, and hallucinations to animals who ingest it, and is unacceptably cruel.

Similar to strychnine, the effects of Compound 1080 can last hours or even days before an animal dies from cardiac failure or respiratory arrest.

According to a national Environics poll commissioned by Wolf Awareness, Animal Alliance, and Animal Justice, 69% of Canadians say that the risks posed by strychnine and Compound 1080 used in Canadian wildlife management programs are unacceptable.



Sadie Parr, Wolf researcher/advocate and Organizer of WeHowl

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Hannah Barron, Conservation Director, Wolf Awareness

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Kaitlyn Mitchell, Director of Legal Advocacy, Animal Justice

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Sheryl Fink, Director, Canadian Wildlife Campaigns. IFAW Canada

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Kelly Butler, Wildlife Campaign Manager, Humane Society International/Canada

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