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.”

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