Editor, Ceres Courier,
On April 7, I emailed Ceres Councilmember Lynda Ryno about finding loose squirrel poison at the Ceres River Bluff Regional Park around the lower bluff walnut trees stating, "If this is true, it poses a direct threat to all the dogs' health that are walked by their owners every day. Moreover, it could poison the food chain of the foxes, coyotes, skunks, and the nesting peregrine falcons that rely on these squirrels for food."
On April 10, 2016, Ryno's email stated, "I met the Director of Public Works at the site and expressed your concerns (and mine). The squirrels have even undermined the access road to the lower area and soccer fields which is what prompted this action. The city will be having signs made to install at the lower area advising park visitors of the use of squirrel eradication methods and the importance of staying on trails."
On April 30 while walking my dogs at the lower bluff, a man told me he found dead turtles and critters. Living here two years with no complaints on 2-1/2 acres between the park and golf course. city workers putting squirrel poison under walnut trees saw him. Three days ago Ceres Police SWAT, code enforcement and Fish & Game woke him at gunpoint and ordered him out by Sunday. When asked why the excessive force and cost to evict one person, "We didn't evict him, he voluntarily left," said Alvarez.
Regarding the March 23, 2015, council meeting, the Courier reported the following information: "The bottom line is you need support staff in order for him (Alvarez) to be effective," said City Manager Toby Wells, "and then really it comes down to priorities." The city doesn't have the resources to be proactive in code enforcement and responds only as complaints are made, added Wells. "As much as we would like to be able to just walk up to somebody and get it fixed immediately ... there is due process involved in that," said Wells. Wells said the city must be careful in "terms of the law." "Being homeless is not illegal," said Wells. "The only thing you've got to enforce that is our municipal code on camping." Cleaning up properties of homeless camps is tricky as well, said Alvarez, who noted that state law requires the city to store for 30 days any possession valued at $3 or more.
An estimated 10,000 children are accidentally poisoned annually forcing the EPA to ban sales of loose rodent baits to the general public for years. Baits must be sold with a protective EPA-approved bait station to keep children and pets from reaching bait. Pest control professionals are required to use tamper-resistant bait stations costing as little as $10.
Squirrel poison has directions for use: "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling. The product is extremely toxic to people, mammals and birds. Dogs, cats and predatory and scavenging mammals and birds might be poisoned if they feed upon animals that have eaten this bait. This pesticide is toxic to fish and runoff may also be hazardous to aquatic organisms in water adjacent to treated areas."
The California Department of Fish & Game states, throughout California, "using unprotected poison baits to control rodents has injured and killed hundreds of thousands of wild animals and pets. Predatory and scavenging birds and mammals will also be poisoned from eating these dead or dying rodents."
The factual basis/rationale of poisonings associated with illegal use of these squirrel rodenticides historically have been among the most toxic substances available to the public. There is serious risk to public health and the environment. There is serious threat to any living thing that accidentally ingests them. The city's failure to require supervision and training or at minimum to significantly restrict their use, or at best to properly investigate a valid concerned citizen complaint and follow-up to insure extremely toxic poison warning signs are in fact put up.
In the best interest of wildlife and public safety, since Ceres River Bluff Regional Park is used by more people then all of the city-owned parks and facilities, it is highly recommended the Ceres City Council follow the Calabasas City Council and adopt a resolution by committing the city of Ceres to not use rodenticides as part of its maintenance program for city-owned parks and facilities. I urge businesses not to sell and property owners to cease buying or using these poisons.