National Pesticide Information Center



Protecting Wildlife from Pesticides

Wildlife may come in contact with pesticides in many ways. They can be exposed if they touch treated areas, eat treated plants, or drink contaminated water. Hidden nests or young may also be directly exposed to pesticides during an application. Pesticides that destroy habitat or food can also affect wildlife.

How can you protect wildlife when using pesticides?

  • If you choose to use a pesticide, always read the label carefully before each use. Pay special attention to the "Environmental Hazards" section.
  • Adopt an IPM approach, which may include tolerating harmless pests or using physical control methods. Choose the least toxic products that are available and effective.
  • Consider what will happen to the pesticide after each use. How long will it last? Will it move from treated areas? NPIC can help answer these questions.
  • Do not apply pesticides when it is raining or about to rain. This helps to prevent contamination of soils or water in drains, lakes, and streams.
  • Do not apply pesticides right up to the water’s edge. Minimize water contamination by leaving untreated areas (buffer strips) along waterways and drainage areas.
  • Never dispose of any pesticide in storm drains, sewer systems, or waterways. Properly dispose of wash water used to rinse equipment.
  • Granules left on sidewalks and driveways may wash into storm drains. Sweep these granules back onto the grass to minimize their movement.
  • Many liquid pesticides pose the greatest risk to wildlife when they are still wet. Try to apply them so they will dry before animals enter treated areas.
  • Do not spray flowers directly while bees are visiting. This includes 'weed' flowers like dandelions and wild clover.
  • Many rodenticide baits can be attractive and toxic to wildlife. Place baits in stations where wild animals, pets, and children cannot reach them.

If you have questions about pesticides, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Additional Resources:

Protecting Wildlife

Protecting Wildlife on Land

Protecting Wildlife in Water

Last updated June 22, 2015