All posts by Farmers Greg and Alex

We are urban farmers in Rancho Cordova, CA. Both of us are educators and advocates for the environment.

Rodenticide: Impacts and Alternatives

Cat with mouseThe food chain is sacred, continual, and encompassing. Rodenticides are a major threat to food chains around the world.

Animals that are adapting to civilization or venturing into human inhabited  areas seeking food, water, and shelter, are at risk of consuming a poisoned rodent and dying as a result of Secondary Rodenticide Poisoning. This includes predatory wildlife including birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians and even your pets. Many pets and humans have had fatal encounters with the poison bait and it has proven in many cases, unsafe to use indoors.

Bold(female) with Rabbit Bill Leikam ©2013
Bill Leikam ©2013

In my neck of the woods, sunny California, there are over 23 species of carnivorous mammals and over 40 species of predatory birds. These creatures feast on the 100+ different species of small rodent like mammals, including: mice, voles, gophers, and squirrels; all potential targets for rodenticide.

 

IMG_5859Last week in California news, two disturbing stories surfaced relating to rodenticide poisoning.  First, a Red-tailed Hawk in a Safeway parking lot in S.F. was seen picking up and eating a deceased mouse it found next to a baiting station. Often, the creatures that ingest the poison can be found exposed, in search of water or dead outside of rodenticide bait stations, easy pickings for hungry predators.

 

RodentcideAnother tragic example of Secondary Rodenticide poisoning, came from Los Angeles: 3 Dead Mountain Lions in the Santa Monica Mountains in  L.A. , one of the three was confirmed dead from rodent poison. Unfortunately, earlier this year UWRP deduced that pups of a Gray Fox family in Silicon Valley may have suffered the same fate. And, according to The Felidae Conservation Fund, there are similar issues with Bobcats in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

 

These instances cannot go unrecognized.

Change needs to happen if we are to attempt to co-exist with wildlife. “Prevention is the key”, Rebecca Dmytryk of Humane Wildlife Control explains,”instead of rodenticide, focus on what attracts the rodents to your property.”

  1. Prevent access to shelter, by sealing entrances and cavities outside and inside with wire mesh, wood paneling, steel wool, and expanding foam. Clean up woodpiles and yard debris.
  2. Eliminate the rodent’s food and water sources. Do not feed pets outside and leave food unattended. Clean up spilled bird seed at the feeder. Remove English Ivy which provides food, water, and shelter year round for rats and mice.
  3. As far as traps go T-Rex easy set spring loaded trap is recommended, only use snap kill traps indoors and do not use inhumane sticky traps. Wildlife such as bats, birds, lizards, skunks, raccoons and others may encounter a trap outside.
  4. Install a Barn owl box! However, before installing an owl box, make sure your neighbors are not using Rodenticide, so you don’t attract an owl to an unsafe area.

©Greg Kerekes 5 WBO ChicksUWRP        In conclusion,  human ingenuity has allowed us to be able to out smart the little rodents that sometimes plague our lives, without damaging the food chain.

Please consider compassionate alternatives and aid the effort to educate citizens on the dangers and impacts of Rodenticides to our environment.

Take Action!

Feel empowered to take this information to your employer if you see rodent bait stations outside your place of work.

A few years ago, I noticed bait stations placed in a private soccer field belonging to a tech company, with a campus along the Guadalupe River in Silicon Valley.  UWRP and Santa Clara Valley Audubon, approached Philips electronics regarding the existence of Burrowing Owls and Gray Foxes in the vicinity of rodent bait stations on their property. Corresponding emails resulted in Philips changing to non-poisonous rodent control methods, as well as  the removal of their poison bait stations from around their Silicon Valley LED campus.

Change is quick once people realize the impact Rodenticides are having on the environment. The key is education. 

Written and edited by:

Greg and Alexandria Kerekez

Here are some great educational resources about the impacts of rodenticide and humane alternatives:

RaptorsaretheSolution.org and wildcarebayarea.org

Watch the Gray Foxes of Silicon Valley to hear from expert Rebecca Dmytryk on Co-existing with wildlife.

For short, groovy, educational videos by Dance Naturalist John Griffith regarding this topic, watch “Rat Poisons Suck!” 

and “Sticky Trap Catches Lizard”

Don’t forget to Share this article and the National Parks Awareness Infographic to broaden the awareness of the negative impacts of Rodenticides.

Gray Fox Report for July 2015

Gray Fox Report for July 2015

Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam
Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)
Date Submitted: August 5, 2015

CORRECTION

In June’s email I opened, “With the loss of the litter around the water treatment plant, with Little One in seclusion and none of the other females in the region having a litter [that I know of], the only female to have a single pup seems to be Dark Eyes.” During the month of July, I had to correct that. It wasn’t Dark Eyes who had the single pup. Instead it was Cute and her mate the alpha male Dark who have the single pup. Dark Eyes may have a litter but if so, she is keeping it hidden and even at night for I have not seen any of her pups on my cameras. As we enter August, I grow more and more skeptical that she has a litter at all.

Continue reading Gray Fox Report for July 2015

UWRP Newsletter: Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Welcome to the Urban Wildlife
Research Project Newsletter

Gray Fox Report for March 2015

by Bill Leikam, The Fox Guy

Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Respectfully Submitted by William C. Leikam
Founder of the Urban Wildlife Research Project (UWRP)

Date Submitted: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
 
It’s the waiting time; that time when many of the females are staying close to their natal dens. There are exceptions, however. From all indications, short of actually seeing them, Mama Bold has given birth to her litter in the old natal den (continuously in use for 24 years) where she and so many other gray foxes in the local area have been born. Dark Eyes, has been absent for the past two weeks. That suggests that she is either denned up or she too has had her litter. (I do not trespass into the actual natal den and that’s why I do not know for certain if the pups have been born.) Little One’s sides still bulge with pups yet to come. Then there’s the adult female Cute who, last year had a single pup. I’m not sure whether she is pregnant or not.

Continue reading UWRP Newsletter: Gray Fox Report for March 2015

Gray Fox Report of February, 2014

Location: Public access areas along the levee road skirting Matadero Creek. Last report – 12/27/2013

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(Picture #1: Helper Female  #2, Creek vaulting over a 10 foot channel)

As mentioned in my last report and as a quick reminder I have been hampered in my monitoring of the gray foxes due to having my Palo Alto City’s permit withdrawn. The city required that I attain a Department of Fish & Wildlife Scientific Collection Permit before I could continue my work. A year has passed with no permit in sight. Because of this, I have enlisted Senator Jerry Hill’s staff to try to trace it down. Even they are having difficulties but the last word on this is that the State Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to find my application.

Continue reading Gray Fox Report of February, 2014

January 2013 Monthly Fox Report

Monthly Gray Fox Report

by Bill Leikam

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bold(female) with Rabbit Bill Leikam ©2013
Bold(female) with Rabbit Bill Leikam ©2013

Over the period of just over a month since my last report, a few changes have taken place with the gray foxes at the baylands. Since early December and on into January, the young foxes, the yearlings, have ignored the usual territorial boundaries as they are looking for their own territory and a mate. Foxes are coming and going through the area. They are for the most part solitary but they will pair up for a week, maybe two weeks and then move on. Along the creek, there are at least two and maybe four foxes both in the floodplain and along the creek down toward the slough. Last month there were none.

Continue reading January 2013 Monthly Fox Report

Sleeping Golf Course Fox 4/11/12

Golf Course Fox

Today Bill and I decided to check out the golf course. We went mid-afternoon, not the typical foxing time, and began walking the perimeter of the course. We then entered the golf course nursery, after a few minutes we thought we were out of luck, when we turned to leave we noticed this Gray Fox curled up on a roll of astroturf. We watched from 20 yards as the fox changed positions, yawned, and went to sleep.Sleeping Fox

Foxes can commonly be found in golf courses due to the vegetation and water incorporated into the course and the fox food such as mice, geese and coots that the green grass attracts. Though these courses can offer habitat, one factor against the fox is the common use of Rodenticide to limit the burrowing rodents on the green. Foxes and other predators in turn eat the poisoned rodents and become poisoned themselves. UWRP supports the ban of  rodenticides and urges golf courses to encourage owls and foxes to inhabit the course to control rodents naturally. Live trapping is also an option, one golf course we monitor in Palo Alto uses live traps with flags to alert when the trap has been set off. The foxes there have learned that flag means rodent and the golf course maintenance crew has to change fewer traps. Mother nature is the key, not poison.

 

Two New Urban Fox Dens 3/30/12

Greg Kerekes ©2012

Today we arrived to the Landfill and got reports from Frank that foxes were seen entering the woodpile multiple days in a row. We checked out the pile and noticed many signs of fox including multiple waterfowl carcasses. The very next day we arrived to the woodpile at sunrise and caught a glimpse of a fox entering the woodpile.

Duck Wing at Woodpile

We arrived to the water plant later in the morning and a plant worker told us that foxes were seen coming in and out of this hole in some roots by their tool shed in the middle of the night. Adjacent to this burrow is a parking lot and multiple buildings with humans working 24hrs a day. This species can tolerate living in close proximity to humans, if their is a secure enough den site and enough foraging habitat.

Greg Kerekes ©2012