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Judge clears Rozol use in Kansas, bans it in 4 states

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

While the Environmental Protection Agency broke its own rules when it registered the blood-thinning poison Rozol, a federal judge has determined it doesn't matter -- at least in six of the 10 states where Rozol is used.

Kansas is one of those states, as are Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

Four states -- Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota -- were stripped out by U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle, who ruled Rozol couldn't be used in those states until EPA obtains a biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit originally filed by Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon of Kansas. The Natural Resource Defense Council later filed its own lawsuit and the two were ultimately combined.

In her late July ruling in Washington, D.C., Huvelle ordered LiphaTech, the company that manufactures Rozol, to submit new labels that bans the use of the poison in the four states.

LiphaTech cannot request and EPA can't approve Rozol registrations for any other state until the EPA gets the biological opinion from the federal wildlife agency.

The EPA's failure to confer with FWS -- required under federal rules -- was what the judge relied upon to find the EPA violated its own rules.

However, in making the finding, Huvelle said she had no interest in halting the sale of the poison. She specifically said an injunction would "prevent LiphaTech from selling its Rozol anywhere -- even in a state like Kansas, where Rozol has been approved for use since 2004."

The pesticide division of the Kansas Department of Agriculture is working on a permit that would allow the sale and use of Rozol in Kansas, but it is not completed yet, KDA spokeswoman Chelsea Good said.

Two days after the ruling, LiphaTech had submitted new labels ordered by the judge.

It wasn't until Aug. 8, however, that EPA issued a cancellation order for Rozol in the four states.

Audubon of Kansas executive director Ron Klataske -- long active in the reintroduction of endangered black-footed ferrets in Logan County -- was discouraged by the order. He's long opposed the use of Rozol, suggesting instead the use of other poisons, such as zinc phosphide.

"It may kill a few birds," he said. "But it doesn't keep on poisoning as Rozol does."

Klataske said Logan County, where the ferrets were reintroduced on two sites, purchased 46 tons of Rozol in 2008.

He's also concerned the report from the federal wildlife agency only will deal with species on the endangered species list.

"Even species that are often regarded as at-risk or species in need of conservation will not get much consideration," Klataske said.