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:


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