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Stop poisoning and live in harmony with nature

Environmentally Speaking

Posted: November 12, 2008 4:39 p.m.
Updated: November 13, 2008 4:55 a.m.
This spring the American Beauty Homeowners Association 1 topped the eucalyptus trees that lined the river bank.

"Topped" is a kind word for the severe pruning that may result in the death of many of these trees.

But worse, the pruning occurred in the spring, disturbing all the nesting birds, including hawks and probably owls that lived in this grove.

In spite of cautions from the city of Santa Clarita and others to not trim trees in the nesting season, this destructive practice continues to drive out our native and migrating birds.

So now the hawks are gone, but not the ground squirrel population on which they feed and which they helped to control.

The homeowners association created a new problem for itself that it is once again trying to eliminate by forcing nature instead of working with it.

Now they want to put out poison to kill these animals to eliminate the problem that they themselves created.

As a citizen who has worked on a voluntary basis on integrated pest management for 17 years, I have shared my concerns with the homeowners' board of directors and offered to look into the safest, least toxic way to address this problem, but so far, to no avail.

There are other, safer solutions.

Instead of restoring the slope with ground cover and irrigation as originally designed, the board of directors has decided against looking into safer alternatives and gone with a toxic Band-Aid approach.

It's the $300-something bargain, according to them. However, the ground squirrels will reinvade, and one would have to keep poison out 365 days of the year or restore the slope to create a real fix.

The current plan of attack is to have a pest control firm sprinkle a broadcast of the bait zinc phosphide in and around burrows, and then place bait stations of Diphacinone. Both baits take five to 10 days to kill, and if a cat, coyote or owl eats the poisoned squirrel, the secondary poisoning occurs from its ingestion.

There are many children who walk and play in this area, and homeowners who walk their dogs there. The squirrel bait will attract and possibly kill unintended predators.

If the HOA is not worried about our kids and pets, then they and the regulatory agencies should at least clearly be worried about the Santa Clara River and our water supply.

The material data sheet for zinc phosphide reads: "Avoid contamination of lakes, streams and ponds by use, storage or disposal."

Legislators on the state level looked last year at banning many poisons that slowly and cruelly kill unintended wildlife and pets through predators feeding on dead squirrels or other targets.

The manufacture of these poisons also cause environmental problems.

It is time that we begin to work with nature by using natural pest management, such as placing hawk and owl perches for rodent control or not cutting down nearby trees that previously served that purpose, instead of poisoning the world that we all must share with these creatures.

Laura A. Scott is a Canyon County resident. Her column reflects her own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Environmentally Speaking" appears Thursdays in The Signal and rotates among local writers.


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