Lefty Ayers appears to have landed a permanent $30,000 a year contract to be the City's Rodenator.
Santa Monica Daily Press
July 21, 2006
BY CAROLYN SACKARIASON
Daily Press Staff Writer
PALISADES PARK — City Hall’s latest plan for the resident squirrels here: Trap them, gas them and feed them to the birds.
It’s not a pretty picture, but a necessary plan, according to city, county and pest control officials. Because the squirrels carry fleas which can lead to bubonic plague, they are considered a health threat, officials said. And because Palisades Park is overrun with the rodents, City Hall has been mandated by the Los Angeles County Health Department to kill them. If City Hall fails to comply, it could be sued.
In January, City Hall was served a summons from the county health department regarding non-compliance with the health and safety code. City Hall was ordered to kill the squirrels or face legal action. The squirrels were poisoned with aluminum phosphide, which began on Feb. 6 and lasted for four days.
Immediately following, a pilot program aimed to control the rodent population without killing them was introduced, according to city officials. The education and birth control program created by Mary Cummins from Animal Advocates called for the treatment of remaining squirrels for fleas to prevent disease, installing signage to advise against feeding the animals and distributing immuno-contraceptives.
But in the eyes of county health inspectors, it hasn’t worked. During a routine inspection in Palisades Park last month, they found the ground squirrel population well above acceptable numbers. (Muzika Note: Remember, the term,“acceptable levels has been questioned by everyone, including the City.)
As a result, county and city officials met last week to devise a plan to reduce the squirrel population this summer.
“The park is in violation and something has to be done,” said Gail Van Gordon, supervisor of the county’s Vector Born Disease Surveillance Unit. She added that her staff presented options to Santa Monica officials and highlighted plans that have worked in the hundreds of other areas the county health department oversees. (Muzika: I wonder if one of the County Staff recommendations was to use Lefty Ayers as the exterminator.)
City officials have apparently reverted back to their original plan, which was developed by Lefty Ayers, who owns Heritage Wildlife Management, a pest control company based in Kern County.
Ayers didn’t use that plan in February when he helped eradicate the squirrels in Palisades Park. He said that because of the pressure from animal rights activists and the media, he instead placed fumigation tablets in the burrows, and the humidity turned it into gas, which killed the squirrels.
“We were forced into it because the people were saying ‘don’t do this, don’t do this,’” Ayers said of when he attempted to carry live animals in traps out of the park.
His traps are larger than most manufacturers —24 feet by 24 feet by 8 inches tall — to prevent overcrowding. (Muzika: Lie, the traps used were typical 36” diameter poison bait station devices. When Dr. Longcare complained to her in a letter about the 24 ft traps, she sneeringly laughed at him to Elaine Polachek from the City).
LOST THAT LOVING FEELING
After the first round of squirrels are killed, city officials and Ayers hope to avoid having to do it again. Ayers and city staff are currently researching studies that indicate an immuno-contraceptive vaccine could reduce the squirrel population without killing them. (Muzika: Well, what do you know, Ayers again.) The squirrels would be trapped and injected with the vaccine, which would inhibit the female’s ability to give birth. “Once the population is down, it looks like the city will help me research it,” Ayers said, adding the vaccine would last 1 1/2 to 2 years. “But it’s very labor intensive and costly “ (Muzika: Well Lefty, you say costly and every 18 months to two years--humm)... if people just stayed out of it, it will be two years before we have to do something again.”
Ayers will meet with city officials by the end of the month to determine the next course of action. City Hall has budgeted $30,000 to reduce the squirrel population, said Elaine Polacheck, City Hall’s open space manager. Polacheck said Cummins’ plan unfortunately didn’t pan out like her staff had hoped. It was supposed to be a one-year pilot program, but lasted just five months.
Well, it seems Ayers, known to everyone in the City and County as Lefty, has a lifetime contract with the City for all future squirrel eradication and control projects, ranging from Rodenator napalming to contraceptive at a much higher charge than other vendors. Animal Advocate’s contract was for $4,200, not $19,000 as Ayers is receiving, plus the $9,700 he got in February of this year.
And, Lefty said this would happen again in two years.
So, Lefty has a guaranteed contract for $30,000 for every two years and will collect $30,000 just for work in 2006!!
Let’s check Lefty out, shall we, the RFP the City sent out, and the bids actually returned.