Major Update: SM City Embraces County's Call for secrecy

The County's Vector Management head, Gail Vangordon, writes in a memo to City staffer Polachek, dated August 9, 2006.

"Are you still intending to alert the media beforehand and tell them the days trapping will be done? Michael (Rood) and I discussed this and we are in common accord that you are under no obligation to provide the media or local activists advance notice."

"We see no positive outcome in giving advance notice."

"The fewer people who show up during the trapping the lower the probability of confrontation. Giving any of these organizations advance notice provides them time to mobilize and bring in the heavy hitters."

"It can take only one or two over-zealous individuals to compromise the effort or put staff at risk."

Email dated August 14, 2006 from City staffer, Elaine Polachek to City Manager Ewell:

"Lefty is placed 10 traps in the 1300 blocks of Palisades Park. There are two undercover police officers and the Park in one park ranger. So far everything is quiet. Things may get a bit dicier later in the week if word travels within the animal activist community. We'll play it by ear."

E-mail from Elaine Polachek to Animal Advocates, dated February 2, 2006:

"Our goal is to undertake these controls quickly and quietly so as to not attract any attention in the park. We felt that was important to keep you abreast of these changes. Our city manager is very concerned that our contractor and staff are not put in harm's way when undertaking this effort. This is why he has asked us to keep this information in the strictest confidence."

As you can see, City is told by the County to keep the August trapping and killing secret, but had kept the earlier killing in February in secret all by itself of its own volition.

Of course, this highlights accusations that the City has been killing squirrels in secret for years, such as in 1998 when I accidently discovered another secret killing.

Indeed, one Parks Commissioner just sent me an email stating that City staff did not tell the Parks Commission about the planned August killing either during their July 2006 meeting.

In a July 26, 2006 email to Prof. Jennifer Wolch, Dean of Graduate Programs at USC, Stinchfield writes:

“On February 16 of this year, the Commission passed the following motion:”

"We moved that all future wildlife management decisions affecting parks and open spaces in the city of Santa Monica be reviewed by the recreation and parks commission."

"Emergency measures required for public safety would be exempt from this review requirement.”

Stinchfield to Wolch:

“At the same time and as the above motion by the recreation and parks commission acknowledges, there are times when emergency measures are required for public safety. The County informed us recently that the need to reduce population was immediate and urgent, and again based on prior counsel direction to also comply with County directives, we took steps to follow that order.”

“While the Commission has no authority to establish review requirements as advisory commissioners our department is committed to keeping the commission informed of new approaches and obtaining input from the Commission and the public as we move forward. We will also inform the Commission of any emergency measures that are being taken at any one particular time. It was my oversight for not making that announcement at the last meeting and I take full responsibility for it.”

As mentioned above, one Commissioner told me the City told them nothing about the upcoming killing during their July 2006 meeting. Well, I guess the City keeps secrets even from its own Commissioners. How convenient, especially since one of them adamantly opposes the killing.

They Did Not Have to Kill the Squirrels After All

I did a request for documents from the City of Santa Monica. Interesting to note there is a mean-hearted woman from LA County Health Services, named Gail Vangordon (626-430-5450, also: who just loves to ridicule others behind their backs in emails. Anyway, she is the County lead regarding killing squirrels in Palisades Park.

In her many emails to the City regarding its needs to kill them, she basically says it is at their (Vector Management) discretion alone to make that determination, based on 25 years experience followed by her usual bogus logic about plague. She also says she just does not have the time to look at each situation separately, so, it is one size fits all.

Of course, instead she sends dozens of emails and many hours on the phone, telling the public and Santa Monica why the squirrels have to die now. She spent 3 hours alone writing one response to one professor, whom she ridicules in an email to the City.

Yet, In an August 2, 2006 e-mail to Elaine Polachek from the City’s Open Air Management she states:

"Furthermore, it is not our responsibility to assess risk before a notice to abate is issued, nor have we at any time referred to the situation in Palisades Park as an "emergency." It is quite clearly a condition that needs to be addressed in a timely fashion…"

In a January 17, 2006 e-mail sent to Elaine Polochek, Vangordon wrote:

"As for penalties (Ed's comment: Of the California health and safety code), there are none, as such, for a municipality. We can’t (or won’t) prepare a court case against the city of Santa Monica. What we can, and will, do is charge the city for every re-inspection we conduct until compliance is met. In other words, every two weeks, when Michael goes out to conduct a compliance inspection, we will charge the city a re-inspection fee of $263. Two inspections per month will result in $526 each month until the park is in compliance. Quite frankly, since the immuno-contraceptive alternative will require several years to reduce the number of squirrels in the park, I don't see a logical end to the fees in the near future.”

Well, well, well, well!!

The City was never threatened by lawsuit by the County if they did not kill the squirrels. Imagine that! This is what the City Manager and a whole bunch of City staffers told the public, the media, its own councilmembers, and Park Commissioners: It’s a public health emergency, and the County will sue us and do it themselves.

The only liability would be service charges f $526 a month. Let’s see, that’s $6,312 per year. Therefore, in order to get the squirrel populations down to the ridiculous levels demanded by Vangordon in the three years she said it would take, the City would have to pay $18,936 in inspection fees.

I get the logic. Pay Ayers $19,182 to kill 400 ground squirrels in three weeks during August and September, as well as pay him $9,736 for his four days of killing in February--which did not work, that is why the City gave him a new $19,000 contract. Who is to say Ayers will be able to kill as many as the County wants this time? Maybe Ayers (who both the City and County refer to him as "Lefty.") will get another $19,000 contract a year from now.

That is, we are paying Ayers $30,004 dollars over eight months to kill 800 squirrels (400 were estimated in Ayers' contract for this kill), while the non-lethal contraceptive and flea project would have cost $13,000 and $19,000 in re-inspection fees. Of course, we may still end up paying Ayers another $20,000.

I can see the logic in that. Spend $30,000 up front to kill nearly a thousand squirrels, or $32,000 over three years and kill none, which could also set a national precedent for non-lethal control of ground squirrels.

This sure makes financial, legal and moral sense.

More about Vangordon in the future, including what she says about others in her emails, as well the relation between the City, the County and "Lefty."

Who is Lying?

I was in Palisades Park today

The burrow count and visible squirrel count was way down in the two block area that had 95% of the squirrels. I saw zero ground and tree squirrels. The holes had trash, dirt, branches in them and lots of mud. It looks like someone flooded the burrows, or, more likely, tamped the burrows shut after gassing them. It is impossible to trap and kill every squirrel in an area.

Maybe he used his famous “Rodenator for Hire” burn them to death method. This is his signature means of killing.

There are six traps in the park today all in one spot. They are located at Ocean and Palisades on the Western side of the fence. They are clearly visible.

The squirrel trap is 2'x2' wire mesh with 3' round diameter metal lid. The others look like standard over the counter poison bait stations.

The squirrel trap doors are in open/locked position. He is either pre-baiting or he may be using this as a poison bait station. Squirrels were entering and leaving the traps including tree squirrels.

Well, it appears the City and/or Ayers plain out lied to the public and the newspapers about how the squirrels are being exterminated or else Ayers plain out lied to the City.

Well, I'll find out more when I see the contracts and do a little more snooping in the park.

Maybe Ayers thought he should make $6,500 a week and gave his trapping efforts a Rodenator boost so he could get out more quickly.

Santa Monica gave Lefty, the "Rodenator for Hire," Ayers a Contract to Kill Squirrels Using Federally Restricted Poison Gas

Santa Monoca Daily Press Article:

"County health officials say it (Exterminating) is necessary because the squirrels carry fleas which can lead to bubonic plague."
  • Yeah, about one chance in a billion. Why don't they kill the fleas as the County and State's own literature recommends and not harm the squirrels? One of the problems is the County's changing definition of "infestation," which is now 3 visible per acre. That means if 5 squirrels are visible along the park from Broadway to San Vicente on the cliff side of the fence, the park is infested. (I think the acrage on the West side of the fence is about 1.5 acres for that stretch, maybe less.)

"I’m not about killing squirrels, but about preventing disease,” Ayers added. “I know there are a lot of people who don’t like what I’m doing, …but it is a matter of public safety." (Sounds Republican, doesn't it? Use fear to justify anything.)

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 Feb. 6 and lasted for four days.

From an undated POWERPR article (featuring Ayers and his "Rodenator" system of killing):

Poison can also take the form of gas. Over the years, a common gopher poison is Fumatoxin, placed underground. For the gas to be contained, the moisture content in the earth must be at a certain level and, if not, the gas escapes through cracks and not only does nothing to handle the gopher problem, it can be harmful to humans. Fumatoxin contains aluminum phosphide, a dangerous Federal-Restricted-Use pesticide.

Obviously, in a heavily-used area such as a park or a golf course, poisonous gasses are a health hazard to be avoided. Ayers, also a recent adopter of the Rodenator system, says, "In talking with agencies such as public works departments, what I'm hearing over and over is that they cannot use and are having to completely get away from poisons."


Well, the City, out of concern for public safety, allowed Ayers to use a dangerous, Federally-Restricted poison gas that can leak out of the burrows and harm passers-by. Go figure. He is alleged to have done this within 15 feet of the Senior Center, which is illegal because the gas can migrate to structures. He also, I understand, did so without signage, which is illegal.

Maybe they will shoot the homeless next out of concern for public safety.

Oh yes, in the article he says "I'm not about killing squirrels, but about preventing disease." However, many, if not most of his clients are farmers and golf courses. So Ayers is sometimes killing squirrels to prevent disease, sometimes he kills squirrels to protect corn and sometimes he kills them to protect golf greens' grass, but never about killing squirrels. Seems he is all things to all clients.

By the way, the Rodenator system uses explosive gases (propane and oxygen) pumped into the burrows, after which he uses a flamethrower to ignite the gas, which burns the ground squirrels alive. Guess Ayers is an animal lover after all.

Lefty Ayers' Lucrative Contract for Killing Squirrels

Lefty Ayers of Heritage Wildlife Management was paid $7,000 for four days work in February to put a handful of gas cartridges down some holes in Palisades Park to kill ground squirrels. That is a $500 job. Not bad profit even if he rented a motel and ate out for $175 a day, since he was earning $1,750 a day-a 1,000 percent profit!!

Now, accoring to the Santa Monica Daily Press, he is getting $19,000 for two weeks worth of killing squirrels so far. $19,000 is insane for trapping! Think of it. The traps are reusable--but probably not legal, we'll let my photos decide--and the bait is watermelon and feed. So what are his expenses? The same $175 per day? Does he charge extra for the carbon dioxide gas used to kill the squirrels?

If he is at it another week, he'll be getting He is now getting $1,270 per day!!! This is to catch and kill an estimated 170 squirrels, or $112.00 per squirrel.

But I forgot, the City provides him with his own kill room using his probably illegal gas chambers according to letters in previous posts on this blog.

AND, the City is giving Ayers 4 bodyguards, two cops and two rangers for two weeks. How much does 4 city employees cost for three weeks? Maybe an additional $11,000? That is, $30,000, or $176 per squirrel!!

Now, how did he get the contract? If there were an RFP, and $19,000 was the cheapest for the most, I'm going to get into the pest control business, $6,000 a week isn't bad money.

I understand that the Animal Advocate project, 95% successful in the Park, cost less than $5,000, and this was an eight month project!!!

So, how did Ayers get the contract??

Who on earth would spend 4 times as much for a lethal project as a life-saving one that was working, especially since there are many LA companies that provide the same services?

Ask Ayers, a self-desribed "Rodenator For Hire."

Heritage Wildlife Management.
Lefty Ayers
3412 Montana Trl
Frazier Park, CA 93225

Or, if you see a 6' 5" guy with a handlebar mustache wearing a baseball cap in Palisades Park, surrounded by cops and Park Rangers, you can ask him yourself.

There will be more soon about the City, the County and the Palisades Squirrels. I'd like to know what the other bids were. If the total contract was for $30,000 as stated, it would have to go through Council.

I'll know soon.


They are doing it. I am too late!!

Despite their transparency, Santa Monica did not inform me they were already killing the squirrels when I made the Request for Documents. The meeting set for Tuesday was just a stall.

(What follows was in a pdf file and will not format well.)

From the Santa Monica Daily Press:

Squirrels scurry ‘Lefty’ and right. City-paid exterminator on the job; rodents trapped in public safety scare.

Squirrel hunting is a risky job in animal-loving SM, and often thankless job, but someone’s got to do it. That someone is Lefty Ayers, a tall, friendly middle-aged man out of Kern County who was hired by City Hall for an estimated $19,000 to trap and kill ground squirrels that are running rampant along the bluffs here, digging holes and making babies at a clip that has county health officials concerned about public safety. For the last two weeks, Ayers, 51, who owns the pest control company, Heritage Wildlife Management, has been using metal traps he welded himself to capture the critters, which are then euthanized with carbon dioxide in a large chamber off site. The carcasses transported to a wildlife rehabilitation center at Cal State Bakersfield. There they will be stored in a freezer and fed to raptors before they are released into the wild.

As of Friday, Ayers said he trapped more than 80 squirrels and believes the population, at least in the area between Arizona and California avenues, has been reduced to safe levels.

The Los Angeles County Health Department, which forced City Hall to remove the squirrels, has the final say. The acceptable number of squirrels is no more than three visible for every two acres, which only represents a small portion of the total population, county officials said.

Once the population is under control and to ensure that no more squirrels will be exterminated in the future, female squirrels will be sterilized to control the rodent population, part of a more humane approach taken by City Hall, Ayers said.

It’s not a pretty picture, but one that county health officials say is necessary
because the squirrels carry fleas which can lead to bubonic plague. There also is concern about the stability of the bluffs, where squirrels have been burrowing like prospectors during the gold rush.

Flanked by two Santa Monica Police officers and a pair of park rangers,Ayers hopped out of his gray pickup Friday, threw on his coveralls and a black baseball hat with flames across the front, and headed out to a series of traps he’d hidden along the bluffs, each one filled with feed, water and a piece
of watermelon.

Ayers, who arrives in Santa Monica about 5:30 a.m., checks the traps twice a day and packs them up at 4 p.m.

“Anywhere else, I could set the traps and leave them overnight, but not in Santa
Monica,” Ayers said. “Here, people are really passionate about this.” So much so that the police had to be called in to protect Ayers from animal activists, some of whom have vandalized his traps and set squirrels free. One man damaged three traps before he was cited, Ayers said, while another tried to steal supplies out of his truck.

“This is a business where people will resort to violent action,”Ayers aid.“Luckily nothing bad has happened to me, but others have had their cars and homes vandalized, their families threatened. It can get pretty serious. “I’m not about killing squirrels. I’m about preventing disease,” Ayers added. “I know there are a lot of people who don’t like what I’m doing, but what about the cop who pulls over 50 people a day for speeding? He’s disturbing them, but giving tickets is a matter of public safety. Same thing here.”

Most of the steel cages Ayers inspected Friday were empty, with some showing signs of a recent visitor who somehow escaped through the one-way door. Three traps contained one squirrel each, not a great number, but it was still early in the day.

“Wait until it gets a little warmer out,” Ayers said. “That’s when we usually see more activity.”

The situation is not new. City Hall has been out of compliance with county health standards before and the growing squirrel population has been an ongoing issue for several years. Acting on residents’ concerns over the ethical treatment of animals, city staff have pursued alternatives in reducing
the population without killing the squirrels.

But those methods have failed.

The most recent case was in January when 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 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 of Animal Advocates called for the treatment of remaining squirrels for fleas to prevent disease,
installing signage to advise against feeding animals and distributing immunocontraceptives. But in the eyes of county health inspectors, it hasn’t worked. During a routine inspection in Palisades Park a few months ago, they found the ground squirrel population well above acceptable numbers. In June, county officials counted 175 squirrels in the 1.5-mile stretch of the park.

As a result, county and city officials met to devise a plan to reduce the squirrel population.

Enter Ayers. “We believe the methods we are using now are the most effective and the most humane,” Ayers said. “The city has done its best to respond to the residents’ concerns and they have even set aside a room for me to euthanize the squirrels that is out of site of the general public and other city employees.”

Ayers will be back Monday morning to set traps. He believes he’s captured about 50 percent of the total squirrels necessary to bring the city into compliance.

“We are trying to take into consideration other people who are concerned that we are killing the squirrels,” Ayers said. “For some people, we understand that no matter how much we explain what we are doing, this is always going to be an issue. I really don’t know what to say about it. It’s a tough issue.”

"Lefty's" business address:


I Am Astounded by the Transparency of Santa Monica City Hall!!

In six days, Santa Monica staff found, and will show me 193 documents regarding communications between staff, Council and the Mayor, as well as the City and the County, regarding the killing of ground squirrels in Palisades Park. AND, they are still looking for more.

I had a request for doucments into LA City Hall regarding who leaked my emails to LAAS to a certain reporter at CityBeat; it took LA THREE MONTHS for LA to respond.

This is a new benchmark for transparency for any municipality I have ever known. I am very, very proud of Santa Monica.

Now to see the County demand letters, and whether a contract has been let for extermination of the squirrels.

Will They Kill Them in the Night???

I just received this letter from Paul Bruce, a regional campaign coordinator of HSUS, the Humane Society of the United States, probably the largest humane/rescue organization in the US. He too says there is no need to kill the Santa Monica squirrels, that there are alternatives.

Mr. Muzika,

Hello. My name is Paul Bruce, with the Humane Society of the United States. My Director, Eric Sakach, forwarded your email (regarding Santa Monica squirrels) to me and asked that I contact you. I am somewhat familiar with the situation and know that this has been going on for some time now. It seems to me that we may have even written some letters about it several years ago. Sorry to hear that the Santa Monica City Council and County Board of Supervisors still insist on authorizing the use of such archaic methods to control the ground squirrel population. I will write a letter to the Council and other players condemning these methods and offering alternatives. I will also check with the biologists at our headquarters and see if they have any suggestions.

I hope this situation can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction (including the squirrels!) and I thank you for your concern and efforts on behalf of the animals.

Paul Bruce

Paul E. Bruce, RVT
Regional Program Coordinator
Humane Society of the United States
Sacramento, CA 95841-7220

There is significant and growing opposition to building the monstrous 24ft X 24 ft live traps at Palisades Park.

Therefore, it is my suspicion that the City of Santa Monica will do as it has done many times before, kill the squirrels with poison gas in the middle of the night. Of course, to do this, they will have to break the law and use unapproved poisons. But, Oh Well. Who cares?

I care, and I am submitting a Request for Public Documents to the City Manager and the head of Parks, Barbara Stinchfield (if she still is head) requesting immediate access to all documents, faxes and emails between the City of Santa Monica and any exterminating company or OTHER ENTITY, regarding services by the latter to kill (abate, reduce in number), the groundsquirrel population anywhere in Palisades Park. I am especially interested in the types of poison to be used and the dates when such services will be rendered.

I will secondarily request copies of all such documents, which I will publish on this blog.

Should they rush to judgment on this issue and kill the squirrels now, then I will request all documents, faxes and emails between the City Manager, the head of Parks, and the Mayor and Councilmembers, regarding the groundsquirrels in Palisades Park, as well any faxes or emails between any of these City officials and Joe Ramirez from the County.

I may then make a similar request to Zev Yaraslovsky and Jonathan Fielding of County Health.

ADL Does Not Understand City Employment Policies and Procedures

For years it seems, ADL has stated the opinion that LAAS Dept. deadwood should be shown the door by intelligent, compassionate, hard-working, legally-savvy, feminist cronies of Pam Ferdin. Her contention was/is that if you get a female lawyer (or a feminist Winograd protege) as AGM or GM, all personnel problems will be resolved instantaneously. Even one of those legally savvy Compassionazis whom Pam was talking about gave me the same opinion. "If they don't do their job, it is out the door."

Pam's latest post repeats this same opinion:

Julie Butcher, represents the LADAS employees and supervisors, and she has fought tooth and nail against anyone who attempts to discipline, transfer or fire an LADAS employee who is unfit and unqualified. LADAS General Manager, Ed Boks, is just not savvy enough in legal matters to know the steps to take in order to be able to get rid of unfit and unqualified LADAS employees (hence the need for an individual with a legal background who cares about animals to be in charge of the LADAS - NOT some former preacher).

In Fact, the following is the reality:

ADL is demonstarting their ignorance about civil service and union rules.

It's almost impossible to get rid of non-exempt employees without going through at least a three-step process (oral warning, write-up, dismissal) followed by a level or two of appeals that are often successful.

The bottom line is that, faced with such an arduous process, no "garden variety screw-up" would be out the door yet, even if Boks had begun the process in the first month he was on the job.

The rules allow someone to be fired for some kind of egregious behavior, but what those rules call egregious and what ADL calls egregious are two very different things. The rules don't care about puppies and kitties. They care about work rules and theft and violating ethics codes.

Now, this is City policy and does not even factor in informal employee protection from the union.

This Kitty Needs a Home--Please!

Subject: 18 yr old cat dumped at shelter when owner was placed in convalescent hospital!

It gets worse! After serving as a loyal and loving companion for all those years, "Peggy" was dropped at the shelter by the children of her owner!!!!!

Peggy is a beautiful blue/gray shorthair with soft fur, a round face and an angel's kiss of white on the inside of her elbow. She is beyond loving and affectionate. If she had it her way, she would be sitting on your lap or cuddling up to you 24/7!

Peggy had a senior profile blood work up recently when she had a dental and a mole between her eyes removed. The report found her to be extraordinarily healthy - even her kidneys and thyroid are completely normal and these are the areas that cats her age commonly show escalated levels. She has some real quality time ahead of her!

The only sign that age has caught up with her is the loss of her hearing. Because she is deaf, she feels vulnerable around other cats and becomes startled when she suddenly catches them in her peripheral vision. She is currently staying at a kind foster's home with three other cats in a small space and is unfortunately spending the majority of time under the bed.

It is completely unfair and absolutely heartbreaking that in her golden years she has to end up this way. Is there a compassionate person that would open up their heart and home to Peggy? She will be appreciative beyond belief and will love you like no other.

If you are unable to welcome Peggy into your home, will you kindly pass this on to your email list?

Thank you so very much,

Deborah Corday
Animal Alliance

Peggy lives in the Los Angeles area, and if you can help, please contact:

Deborah Corday

New Hope Success News from West Valley

Despite the ADL claim that New Hope is old news, there is new and good news about its implementation here in LA. The following letter to Ed Boks was written by a man I have known for three years. Larry is a stright shooter, candid, honest, and has always been extremely helpful to me. So much for the naysayers regarding New Hope!

Dear Ed:

I would like to thank you and the Department of Animal Services for what I like to call "The New Frontier"! It is definitely working!!! Being involved with the New Hope Program has been a real pleasure, in addition to being a valuable learning experience.

The "Old Way" just does not work any more my relationship with our New Hope partners has taught me I can make a difference. In the old days, when an animal came into our Centers, whatever the situation, in a distressed medical condition there was only one solution, euthanasia.

Today, because of cooperation of ACT Supervisor Sergio Rios and the rest of the West Valley Animal Care & Control Center, we have had remarkable happy endings. In the past, these happy endings would not have been possible.

One story was a Golden Retriever puppy hit by a car who needed surgery immediately. Because we can now do transactions over the phone we were able to get the dog placed with a New Hope partner without them even physically having to come to the Center!!! This would have been unheard of last year!!! In addition, the dog was transported to a veterinary hospital in West Los Angeles by one of the ACT's from West Valley, again unheard of in past years.

Another situation was a 6 month old Lab puppy dropped off at the center, it's tail had been chewed off because of infection, imagine the pain and suffering the dog had gone through! In the past, the dog may have been euthanized because of pain and suffering.

My effort to find a nearby veterinarian to do the tail amputation surgery was successful. I was able to locate a vet to do the surgery for two hundred dollars. The dog was delivered to the nearby veterinarian; again by an ACT on duty that day.

The dog was picked up later that day and adopted the next Sunday by a really beautiful couple. It was love at first sight! The couple was amazed we had gone through the effort to save the puppy’s life, and that they were adopting a "special case". I am sure that dog is living better then most of us!

There are many other stories of the efforts of myself, ACT Supervisor Sergio Rios, Captain Selder, and most importantly the staff of the West Valley Animal Care & Control Center. Of course, the rescue community has stepped up and created a much better atmosphere for all of us to be fortunate enough to be a part of our life saving efforts.

With, "The New Frontier" we have all realized we can make a difference, even if it is one at a time. By being more flexible and willing to change we are making the image of LA Animal Services much more positive and friendly toward the public and rescue groups.

Hail to "The New Frontier"! I welcome your comments and further cooperation with everyone involved in "Savings Animals’ Lives"!!!! Along with the cooperation, of everybody these situations of transporting animals for New Hope partners are becoming more and more frequent.

Dogs that are adopted from South Central Animal Care Center are being transported to West Valley Animal Care Center because it makes adopting easier for New Hope partners. It seems these happy endings are becoming a daily occurrence, which is terrific!!!

Larry Herskovic
New Hope Coordinator
Volunteer Liaison
ACT/ROP Instructor
West Valley Animal Center
20655 Plummer St.
Chatsworth, CA 91311
"It's all for the animals"

The Perpetual Killing of Squirrels in Santa Monica

This is an issue I take very personally.

In 1998 I ran for City Council in Santa Monica. One of the issues that arose during that campaign was that the City was being required by the County to “suppress” the ground squirrel population in Palisades Park. Years before the City had poisoned these squirrels and there was a public outrage because dead squirrels were seen all over. Subsequently, poisoning was done without being announced using internal bleeding-type rodent poison or poison gas. Most recently they did poison gas in February of this year. The story published in Surf Santa Monica is below.

The wussy City saw nothing wrong with it and poisoned them. The alternative was to face lawsuit by the County and SM has always been very lawsuit avoidant. Threaten them with a lawsuit and they will cave.

However, this was the beginning of a long-running battle between the City and me. On two occasions I talked to PETA's Stephanie Boyles about the situation. I sent her tons of articles and data. She said she was interested but nothing came of it until last year when they wrote a strongly worded objection letter to the City and threatened to involve themseleves in the fray. This letter was partially responsible for the City trying a non-lethal control of the squirrel population. One of the things the City fears beside lawsuits, is public protest; they fear lawsuits more.

Over the years since 1998 the County and City seemed to accelerate the killing. It seems they began doing it every year instead of every 4 years or so.

They began to do it at night or very early in the morning to avoid being seen. They use poison gas shoved into the burrows and then covered the burrow entrances with dirt to gas the poor little guys inside. They did this at least twice while I was actively monitoring the situation during 1998-2002, as well as also using the poison bait stations.

The City Manager at the time, Susan McCarthy, just flat out lied and said the City didn’t do it despite the fact you could plainly see the burrows were covered over and there were no more ground squirrels to be seen. I felt like asking if she thought some helpful citizen, seeing the great peril posed by the squirrels, decided the city was impotent to meet the challenge, and did it himself; but Susan didn't have much of a sense of humor so I said nothing.

Joe Ramirez was quoted by newspapers in 1998 and 2005, and a lie he also repeated before City Council in 2005, that the non-gas, anticoagulant rat poison they used, caused the squirrels to go to calmly their burrows where they went to sleep. Well, it is hard to sleep when your joints are painfully swelling and you are suffocating from internal bleeding. This guy lies. The City went along with his lies as they did not see it as a big deal even while protests mounted. Back in 1998, the then Mayor Holbrook said he could see no alternative. He is Mayor now. Apparently, he still sees no alternative to killing.

Because of a very courageous Santa Monica Councilman (as well as PETA-pressure), the City finally did try alternative methods of control. Birth control. It works. Previously, the County objected to any alternative proposal and threatened to sue the City unless they poisoned the squirrels, even though they knew of numerous alternative control methods as well as flea-abatement, which the County recommends itself.

In fact, their own literature posted below calls for the use of flea pesticide bait stations for control of plague in active areas--not poison or gas. Their own literature says it is not necessary to harm the squirrels. Read it!

Then this past February, the City let a contract with Animal Advocates to use substances to induce sterilization to stabilize the population and lead to decrease with the passge of time. Apparently, the treatment was effective along almost all of the park, except for a section between Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. This contract led to PETA commending the City for being in the vanguard of humane wildlife management.

However, the County said this was not good enough and presented the City with a new deadline to kill the squirrels. The City Manager obliged and poison gassed hundreds of burrows--at least according to the Surf Santa Monica stories below.

The City never did an EIR or CEQA (CA Environmental Quality Act) report regarding the environmental impact of poisoning squirrels within feet of passersby, or dogs on leashes, or the feral cats living in the park. CEQA is concerned with a project's impact on protected or otherwise special species, such as owls or pelicans, especially by means of unapproved poisons.

They did nothing about preventing the tree squirrels in the park from being killed by the same poison bait stations, and tree squirrels are a protected mammal. (In stories below, there have been hundreds of "collateral deaths" in wildlife because of such poisonings.)

I am saying this because I fear they are going to return to the old ways of poisoning if the County decides the alternatives don't work, which is what it appears they are setting to do now. (AUGUST 18, 2006) [Ed's note: In fact, I found out later, the killing actually began on August 14.]

I want to make it clear that the City is only a secondary culprit. They always had the option of not caving to the County and face the prospect of being sued by the County for Non-compliance, but they did comply. In fact, the City Manager, Lamont Ewell decided to jump the gun in February, and pumped poison gas into hundreds of ground squirrel burrows--which he said was a "minimal suffering"death--even while discussion between Councilmember Kevin McKeown and Zev Yaroslavsky about this issue was going on; they were in discussion of ways to not kill the squirrels and still manage the "plague threat." But now the issue seems to be that of the definition of "infestation," which is once removed from the source cause, fear of plague.

Actually, the "rules" that everyone are playing by are based on the definition of "infestation," which was the concept of controlling plague. But the County has changed its definition so that even the reduced number of squirrels present due to the effective non-lethal control methods, is still defined as an infestation--thus, to be killed. This is pure County Health.

(A real issue is, what is an "infestation," are the numbers constant or mutable depending on the circumstances? AND, is a so-called 'infested' area at any more risk for plague, statistically, than a non-infested area? I think not. I think the County leaves this all up to the discretion of Ramirez.)

The whole story is found below in a February 2006 Surf Santa Monica article.

The real culprit are the people at County Health, Gail VanGordon and Jonathan Fielding.

Now, several activist people on the Westside, (also the letters and articles below, as well as City sources), have told me that there is a new method proposed and accepted to suppress “kill” the squirrels. Much of the story is below, such as in, written by its editor, Jorge Casuso, and a reporter, Olin Ericksen.

This time the method is deemed to be ecologically more suitable for a "green" city such as Santa Monica. Poison gas and poison bait stations will no longer be used.

The latest plan is to live trap the squirrels using several huge 24 ft X 24 ft X 6 ft. monstrosities, then trasnporting the captured squirrels elsewhere to be lethally gassed with carbon monoxide in home-made gas chambers. I think $30,000 has been budgeted for this way of killing them.

So, not only did Ewell order the killing of hundreds of ground squirrels in February, they are now going to kill hundreds more in homemade gas chambers because of County Health orders and threat of lawsuit against the City.

This has ignited opposition and protest from many very credible academic sources, too numerous to publish all their letters. Two are below. The trapping has not begun yet. If the traps do not work, according to Ramirez, the squirrels will be poisoned the old, illegal, unnecessary and brutal way of gas or rat poison.

It is my strong conviction that both this present trapping be stopped as well as all future poisoning modalities since MANY viable alternatives exist to prevent “plague” which is the reason Ramirez gave me for killing them. These methods include birth control, educating the public not to feed the squirrels, and controlling the fleas, and not further killing of the squirrels.

Again, take a look below at LA County Vector Management's own literature, "Facts about Plague in Los Angeles." They say they will use flea insecticide inside non-lethal ground squirrel bait stations. Why are they forcing Santa Monica to use methods they do not themselves recommend or use?

Recently there was a single case in L.A., the first in 22 years, but Fielding (Acting Director Co. Health), in his own press release said not to worry, it was no big thing, that there was no increased risk in the area for plague. So why is it a big thing in Santa Monica?

In the meantime, call the County:

County Health (Vector Management)

Jonathan Fielding: (213) 240-8117 --- Direct Line

Fielding is Acting Director of Public Health for LA County ----

Call Jonathan Fielding and ask them why killing the squirrels is their only solution, when the State of California recognizes flea suppression, not killing them, and most Southern California Counties also recommend flea abatement as opposed to poisoning the squirrels as the latter poses great dangers to other wildlife as well as human passersby. They will deny there is any problem, but of course that is a BIG lie.

The birth control method has proven effective throughout Palisades Park. There is a two-block section where it has not been so effective because people feed them too much there. But, once the homeless feeding has moved indoors, this will not be a problem. What is the rush?

Indeed, it is not clear what the County's definition of adequately controlled population is, nor if the criteria they use has any scientific validity, or is merely a whim of Ramirez. The letter immediately below raises that issue.

Call Zev Yaraslovsky, County Superintendent who is working with the City of Santa Monica on this issue. Tell him you want to hold off on the extermination.
Zev (213) 974-3333

Call the Santa Monica City Manager. This guy deserves special mention for his recent decision to poison gas the squirrels when he didn't have to.

P. Lamont Ewell--- (310) 458-8301

SM Council (310) 458-8201

Mayor Bob Holbrook (310) 458-8301

Tell your Councilmember that killing the squirrels is not only not-necessary, but is deplorable.

(Though I tried many times, this letter refused to format properly.)

(A Wildlife Organization)

Date: July 24, 2006
Re: Proposed Squirrel Extermination at Palisades Park

We have learned that County of Los Angeles has once again ordered the City of Santa Monica to
exterminate California ground squirrels in Palisades Park. We presume that this is an order made under Section 116125 of the California Health and Safety Code, which allows the County to order removal of rodents if they “infest” an area. We are very disappointed by this development.

We believe that this action is unnecessary because initial results of the multifaceted non-lethal
control program currently in place, which includes an immunocontraception program and public outreach to deter ground squirrel feeding, indicate that the program will reduce and stabilize the squirrel population within Palisades Park. The kill contemplated by the City is a short-term, inhumane, expensive action that will not have long-term benefits.

In conjunction with a previous order from the County of Los Angeles to reduce the California
ground squirrel population in Palisades Park, the City of Santa Monica used poison gas to attempt to reduce the population.

The City subsequently implemented a humane control program. This humane control program has been successful in all areas of the park except for a two-block stretch that is the location for a large program to feed the homeless. Some of this food ends up being fed to the ground squirrels, which is inconsistent with the humane population control program.

Attempts to encourage several homeless people who feed squirrels to stop doing so have been unsuccessful. We have learned from a Santa Monica City Councilmember, however, that the City is about to announce that the homeless feeding program will be moved out of Palisades Park to an indoor location. This will eliminate this impediment to the success of the humane ground squirrel management program in this area.

We ask that the County exercise its discretion to postpone any lethal control of ground squirrels in Palisades Park. Los Angeles County has broad latitude in its application of State law. The tate does not provide a definition of “infestation” and it does not require the County to maintain ground squirrels at any given level.

The law requires infestations to be controlled “for the preservation of the public health or to prevent the spread of contagious or infectious disease, communicable to mankind, or when it determines that it is necessary to prevent great and irreparable damage to crops or other property.”

With this purpose in mind, it is unclear why the County insists that the population at Palisades Park be reduced so urgently that lethal control is required. There is an ongoing sustainable control program that includes dusting the squirrels for fleas, thereby eliminating the possibility that plague could transmitted from this population (in the near-zero possibility that it were to be present).

Injured animals are trapped and rehabilitated as part of the management program, reducing the possibility that the public will come into contact with these animals. No allegation of “irreparable damage to crops or other property” has been made.

With these facts in mind, the County certainly has it within its power to allow a sustainable long-term solution to be implemented.

If the County and City insist on proceeding with the lethal control program, we envision that it
will encounter several regulatory and public relations difficulties if it is indeed the same program as previously proposed by the City. We understand that the extermination is to be carried out byHeritage Wildlife Management, the same contractor hired earlier this year. If the previously announced trap and kill program is now to be implemented, it raises the following issues:

Installation of large live traps (we understood that 400-lb traps were proposed originally)
probably constitutes “development” under the California Coastal Act and the program
would therefore require a Coastal Development Permit.

The gas chamber to be used to kill the ground squirrels was going to be “homemade” by Heritage Wildlife Management. Carbon dioxide is not considered a humane method of euthanasia for dogs and cats and although it is approved for wildlife, it is approved only if it is administered in a manner that meets national veterinary standards.

It is unlikely that Heritage Wildlife Management can meet such standards, which include elements such as the design of the chamber and the rate at which carbon dioxide is pumped into the chamber.

Furthermore, a literature review recently published in Laboratory Animals reports that a number of studies indicate that carbon dioxide causes pain and distress in rodents, and the American Veterinary Medical Association warns that burrowing mammals (such as ground squirrels) can have an extraordinary tolerance for carbon dioxide, listing this as a disadvantage in the use of carbon dioxide for euthanasia.

Live trapping of ground squirrels in a large trap has a high probability of capturing members of different families. This can result in fights and mortality inside the trap.

Live trapping in a large trap has a high probability of capturing non-target animals (e.g., tree squirrels) and then confining them with other animals in an inappropriate and dangerous manner.

The area where the trapping would be required is a high public use area.

__FOOTNOTES: 1 Plague has not been recorded in a ground squirrel population at sea level in Los Angeles since the 1920s. 2 Conlee, K.M., M.L. Stephens, A.N. Rowan, and L.A. King. 2005. Carbon dioxide for euthanasia: concerns regarding pain and distress, with special reference to mice and rats. Laboratory Animals 39:137–61. 3 AVMA Panel on Euthanasia. 2001. 2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 218:669–696.

We expect that large traps will not be accepted by the public, especially when the public understands that the purpose is to kill the squirrels in a homemade gas chamber.

We are disappointed that the City of Santa Monica has attempted to put an “environmental” spin on the proposed program by announcing that the dead squirrels will be fed to raptors. This is nothing but an attempt to greenwash the needless killing of native California wildlife.

We encourage the City of Santa Monica to pass and enforce a no-feeding policy for oncompanion animals on City property. Excessive direct feeding and feeding of other animals are the root causes of the size of the population of ground squirrels at Palisades Park, and controlling these causes, coupled with the ongoing immunocontraception program, will allow the population to stabilize at a much lower level without resorting to lethal measures.

We encourage the County of Los Angeles to work with jurisdictions such as Santa Monica that
have the foresight to implement a humane, long-term approach to manage ground squirrel populations. The County and the City have an opportunity to show the efficacy of a holistic
approach to ground squirrel management, rather than perpetually killing native wildlife.


Jennifer Wolch
Dean of Graduate Programs
USC College
Professor of Geography
Director, Center for Sustainable Cities

To Members of the City Council, City Manager Ewell, Recreation and Park Commissioners, and Community and Cultural Affairs Staff:

I am writing to express outrage and dismay at the way that - once again, the City of Santa Monica is dealing with the issue of squirrels in Palisades Park.

After extensive discussions about this issue at Commission meetings, and the Commission's specific request that any action on this issue come before the Commission, it is discouraging to see that the Commission's role can be summarily ignored by city staff on a matter of significant public interest and concern.

It is inadequate to send out after-the-fact messages apologizing for forgetting to mention this issue at the last commission meeting, and simply stating the City's position - unless the management actions in question are delayed until after public discussion can occur. This tactic precludes any public debate - and in so doing effectively abrogates this city's democratic process.

As to the technicalities of this issue, please see the attached letter from the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Protection Institute, and the Urban Wildlands Group.

It is clear that the existing program of flea control, immunocontraception, and public education has been remarkably effective in reducing squirrel numbers - except in a two-block area where continual wildlife feeding linked to homeless meals programs, has led to reduction rates lower than in other parts of the park. It is also clear that more extermination, aside from being inhumane and possibly illegal, will be totally ineffective unless programs that draw homeless people to the park to receive meals are either moved indoors or restructured in such a way that excess food cannot be distributed to park wildlife and feral animals.

While fully appreciating the sensitivities involved around the presence of food programs in city parks, as well as feral cat welfare concerns, the fact is that the lethal approach is not a solution and will not be effective.

Make no mistake: this issue will not go away until the City begins to act on the basis of scientific evidence about squirrel ecology, an understanding of anthropogenic wildlife population drivers, and the legality of alternative population control measures.

I urge the City Council to direct staff to work with the squirrel ecologists and wildlife management specialists in the region, as well as homeless service providers and feral cat advocates to forge a set of progressive urban park wildlife policies.

Director, Center for Sustainable Cities


City Turns to Euthanasia to Reduce Squirrel Population in Park
By Jorge Casuso

July 21 – They tried education. They tried contraception. They even tried poison gas. And still, the ground squirrel population in Palisades Park has doubled since February, City and County officials said Thursday.

Now, Los Angeles County Public Health officials have notified the City that it must take additional measures to reduce the rodents, which both parties agree could spread disease and destabilize the park perched above Pacific Coast Highway.

To comply, the City is contracting with Heritage Wildlife Management to trap the ground squirrels in several blocks of the park later this summer and send them to be euthanized offsite using carbon dioxide, which the American Veterinary Association has deemed acceptable, City officials announced Thursday.

The dead squirrels will then be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility and fed to hawks and other wild birds that prey on squirrels when they are returned to the wild, according to City and County officials. “The goal is not in any way to remove all ground squirrels from Palisades Park,” said Gail Van Gordon, county public health entomologist. “The intent is to reduce the number to a level that is acceptable for the safety of park users and pets and for the health of the squirrels.”

The efforts launched by City Manager Lamont Ewell in February -- which included administering immunocontraceptives and urging the public not to feed the squirrels -- were not as effective as anticipated, City officials said. Despite the disappointing results, the City is optimistic that a research program conducted by the USDA Wildlife Service and the California Department of Health Services in a park portion of the Berkeley Marina could work in Santa Monica, City officials said.

The program -- which calls for trapping squirrels and injecting them with the vaccine that inhibits their sexual development -- proved to have been more than 90 percent effective, according to a study published by UC Davis.

City and County officials hope UC Davis and Cal Poly Pomona will agree to undertake and coordinate a similar program in Palisades Park that could become a model for reducing the use of lethal controls on ground squirrels.

For now, City and County Health officials are continuing to urge people not to feed the furry rodents.

“Allowing squirrels to naturally forage for food is a major factor in maintaining a healthy population in manageable numbers,” Van Gordon said.


Ground Squirrels Exterminated under City Manager’s Orders
By Olin EricksenStaff Writer
February 13 --

In the end, not even a county supervisor could halt what may be the last round of killing Santa Monica ground squirrels in Palisades Park.

Under direct orders from the newly hired City manager Lamont Ewell -- and over the objections of animal advocacy groups, a local council member and County Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky -- City staff gassed hundreds of squirrel burrows in the seaside park with a lethal dose of aluminum phosphide between Monday and Friday of last week.

Declining to be interviewed about the matter, Ewell issued a four page statement about the decision he made personally barely a month after assuming the top spot at City Hall.
“As a person who loves animals, my goal is to avoid ever having to reduce the populations of squirrels in this manner again,” Ewell said.

In the statement, Ewell cited health concerns and “significant” exposure to “liability claims” if the City did not carry out a year-old compliance order issued by the Los Angeles County Health Department to immediately reduce the ground squirrel population.

Local animal right’s groups said the City may have acted too quickly, however, as negotiations seemed underway between County Health officials and those who wanted to postpone the killing, including Supervisor Zev Yaroslovsky and Santa Monica City Council member Kevin McKeown.

“Instead of waiting for the facts to come in, (Santa Monica officials) squeezed the trigger,” said Travis Longcore, an assistant professor at the USC Center for Sustainable Cities and science director for the Urban Wildlands group, a Los Angeles conservation organization.

“The city just went ahead with the killing, even though Zev (Yaroslovsky) and Kevin McKeown were in talks” with County Health officials, Longcore said.

Emails obtained by The Lookout -- dated the same days that extermination was underway -- show correspondence between McKeown and Supervisor Yaroslovsky asking County Health Director Jonathan Fielding to give them more time to explore alternatives to killing the squirrels.

“Jonathan: Can you please follow this up with Councilmember McKeown?” asked the supervisor. “This is a serious problem, and I’ve heard from others around West Los Angeles about this as well.

“If he has an alternative idea of how to deal with the squirrels,” the County supervisor wrote, “I think we owe it to him and the City of Santa Monica to give it serious consideration. Please keep me informed.”

Another email from McKeown to the City Manager dated February 7 at around 11:30 am -- one day into the gassing -- shows that the council member was actively lobbying County Health to stave off the extermination, and seemed to show he thought he was making progress.

“My personal appeal has resulted in what I feel was a productive phone call,” McKeown wrote. “I have just spoken directly with Dr. Jonathan Fielding of L.A. County Health Services.
“Dr. Fielding is willing to wait several days to let his staff review further data, should we or advocates have any, suggesting that a significant reduction in existing population can be effected by means other than a kill,” the email said.

The alternative under discussion is the same alternative that Santa Monica officials said they will move forward with from this point forward: using contraceptives and educational programs to lower the population without a mass killing.

“Dr. Fielding met with his staff on this issue last night,” McKeown wrote. “They appear to agree that an educational feeding and contraceptive program as proposed for Palisades Park can keep a squirrel population stable, but they are unsure that it can actively reduce an existing population in a reasonable amount of time.

“According to Dr. Fielding, the information on population control which he has seen involves prairie dogs, not ground squirrels,” the email said. “His concern is that a population decrease happen in the relatively short term, and he thinks a contraceptive program might take years to significantly reduce existing population. However, he has instructed his people to go back and look again at our Santa Monica situation.”

Gail Van Gordon, County Health supervisor of Vector Borne-disease surveillance, acknowledged that there were ongoing communications between health officials, the City and Yaroslovsky. However, she said, they received no order to give Santa Monica more time.

“If a county supervisor wanted us to hold back on enforcing the code, we would have, but no word come down to us,” Van Gordon said last week. “Since last March, they have been in violation of the code.”

Gordon said the population had increase over 300 percent in a four-month period last year, and that the County could not give any additional time -- even weeks -- to look at alternatives.
County Health did not seem convinced sterilization is an effective means of lowering the population quickly.

“The Animal Advocates claim a 30 percent reduction in three months, and could have cut that population in half in a year,” said Longcore. “Why go ahead and have a big kill when the population will just rebound to what the habitat will sustain?”

The City -- which has come under stiff criticism from such animal rights groups as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for not exploring alternative to killing the squirrels in the past year -- will use a policy that urges visitors not to feed the squirrels and sterilizes the squirrels, City officials said.

“We are optimistic that the educational and contraceptive approaches will allow us to maintain the population and meet County requirements,” said Ewell. “We are also serve as an alternative maintenance procedures for other communities to follow.”

After holding off on the program and exploring options, such as trapping the rodents live, euthanizing them and feeding them to raptors in rehabilition, the city moved quickly on the extermination after it received a summons January 16 by the County Health Department.

City officials decided to forgo the trapping because it could take weeks. Instead the City placed the aluminum phosphide in the burrows “to immediately reduce the numbers.” “This application,” read Ewell’s statement, “is highly effective at reducing the number of squirrels quickly and, more importantly, with minimal suffering.”

For Longcore and others, the decision seemed to made in haste to rid the City of the gnawing problem of ground squirrels once and for all. To me, it’s just senseless,” he added.

The below is from Vector Management's own "Facts about Plague in Los Angles."

"Health authorities will institute preventive measures when animal plague is found in areas with human exposure. Warnings will be posted. After careful evaluation, the area may be quarantined and insecticides may be used to reduce the risk of flea bites to humans. Insecticide dust is applied into rodent burrows and/or into tube-like containers called “ bait stations.”

Rodents enter the bait stations and get flea powder in their fur. They also carry the insecticide in their fur back to the nest, killing fleas inside the burrows. This method of flea control is very effective, uses a minimum of insecticide, and does not harm the rodents.

Los Angeles County Department of Health ServicesVector Management Program 5050 Commerce Drive Baldwin Park, California 91706 (626) 430-5450

SANTA MONICA LOOKOUT; last year (2005)

Animal Rights Group Calls for End to Squirrel Killings By Jorge Casuso
July 29 --

The poisoning of ground squirrels in Palisades Park has prompted the world's largest animal rights organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to sit up and take notice of a brewing controversy in Santa Monica.

The 850,000 member organization fired off a letter Wednesday to Mayor Pam O'Connor demanding that the City halt a program that sets out poison pellets in the park to kill the squirrels in an effort to stem the possible spread of disease.

"Our office has been bombarded with complaints from Santa Monica citizens about the poisoning of ground squirrels at Palisades Park," wrote Mylie Thompson, a wildlife caseworker in the group’s Domestic Animal and Wildlife Rescue & Information Department.

"On behalf of our thousands of members in California, we respectfully ask that you order city employees to remove all poison from the park immediately and that the city establish strict policies prohibiting the use of poisons in Santa Monica's parks," Thompson said.

City officials countered that all poison bait was removed from the park a month ago and that the "suppression" of ground squirrels -- whose fleas can carry bubonic plague bacteria -- was ordered by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

"As you know, the City was ordered to suppress the ground squirrel population" by the County, the mayor wrote. "The coastal belt of California is one of the high-risk areas for plague. Keeping the ground squirrel population down is a precaution against humans and pets being infected."

Responding to PETA's claim in a press release that the group has received "a barrage of complaints from outraged Santa Monica residents," City officials countered that they have received complaints from only a couple of persistent residents. (Such as Ed Muzika--my note)

In its letter, PETA said that poisoning squirrels is illegal.

“Failing to follow the product label on a pesticide is a violation of federal law,” the letter stated. “The product label on Contrac, the rat poison reportedly used in the park, clearly states that the substance is not to be used in reach of children, companion animals, or wildlife.”

The group urged the City to attack the fleas, not the squirrels. The letters points to an online pamphlet produced by the LA County Department of Health that “outlines an effective flea-control strategy that employs bait stations to distribute insecticide dust on squirrels' fur as they enter the stations.” (Ed Muzika--I sent that literature two years before.)

“The flea powder, harmless to squirrels, kills the fleas living in squirrels' fur, and when the squirrels carry the powder back to their subterranean homes, the powder also kills the fleas living in these burrows,” PETA wrote.

City officials said they have explored alternate methods of suppressing the ground squirrel population, and that poisoned bait “is considered the safest viable method for park users, pets and other animals.” (Comment: Is considered by whom? Ramirez from the County who demanded this method?)

The bait stations -- secured in off-limits areas of the park -- are safe because only ground squirrels, rats and mice can get inside, City officials said. “Ground squirrels crawl back into the burrows after ingesting the bait, so dead squirrels are not visible or accessible to birds or pets to which the fleas could transfer,” according to information released by the City.

Rambeau -- who said most residents understand the reasons for the City’s actions -- called for putting the issue in perspective. "These are rodents," Rambeau said. "These are not tree squirrels, they're ground squirrels. They're classified as rodents.”

(Comment: Well Judy, so are rabbits and tree squirrels. It is easy to use labels to emotionally justify anything.)

Topange Messenger, August 2, 2006

Pavley Bill Tackles Wildlife Poisoning
By Dan Mazur

State Assembly Member Fran Pavley has authored a bill designed to address the problem of anticoagulant chemicals used in commercial rodenticides that have been linked to many accidental deaths of local wildlife and pets. The bill, AB 1548, would not ban the sale or use of the poisons statewide. It would, however, give county governments the authority to ban the sale of the chemicals within their jurisdictions.

Targeted are four anticoagulants commonly used in commercial rodenticides: Brodifacoum, Bromadialone, Diphacinone and Difethialone. By preventing blood from clotting, these chemicals cause the animal to bleed to death internally. Since it takes a while for rodents to die from this way, they have time to become part of the food chain, poisoning predators such as hawks, owls, bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions.

Over the past several years, dozens of bobcats have been found, dying slow and painful deaths after absorbing toxics from poisoned prey in the Santa Monica Mountains. In December of last year, two of the eight mountain lions living in the Santa Monicas were found dead, and scientists have determined that their deaths were caused by anticoagulant poisoning. Recently a Topanga dog, Zeebo, died from ingesting anticoagulants intended for ground squirrels on a neighbor’s property.

“As someone who takes care of wildlife I’ve seen a lot of animals succumb to secondary poisoning from eating poisoned rats, mice and squirrels,” Hogan says. “It’s a terrible way to die.”

Look Who is Calling the Kettle Black

The latest ADL post is more of the same. It attacks Ed Boks by misrepresenting his past, such as repetition of the false charge he was fired in New York, a charge I have refuted a half dozen times.

Let’s get this straight, Boks was hired to bring his considerable shelter expertise to Los Angeles Animal Services. He has done that and continues to do that. Euthanasia rates are down 30% over last year—an astounding one-year improvement.

ADL continues to attempt character assassination for whatever reason. Why?

For arguments sake only, what if every lie ADL makes up about Boks' past were true, does it affect his effectiveness here regarding what ADL calls “the prize,” which is a no-kill shelter system?

Consider the source of the ADL moral crusade against Boks' purported cronyism, sexism, racism and incompetence. Here we have a truth-challenged little woman who has numerous misdemeanor convictions and has spent time in jail for those convictions and uses her posts most foul to attack, it seems, everyone who works for the City and LAAS. AND, who wanted her own crony to become General Manager or AGM of Los Angeles Animal Services.

We have an apparently now unemployed reporter who shot down her own career through non-stop destructive emails.

We have a “man” who was refused a job by Ed Boks—who, until that time, dotted on him and promised eternal loyalty. Once denied the position he coveted, this “man” became Boks’ most bitter enemy.

We have a businessman, who is being sued for intellectual property theft, and who purportedly attempted to extort a contract out of LAAS and Ed Boks, who then was fired from an organization for which he was a consultant, and who allegedly threatened to destroy Boks if anyone went after his reputation and company.

These are the people attacking Boks’ reputation and charging moral turpitude. Consider the source and wonder about their motivations. Their single coherent connection is one of hatred and destruction.