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    If you want to get rid of Rats you need Rodenticides



    By William Hicks

    On the front page of The Thousand Oaks Acorn for September 5, 2019 is an article titled…..Clawing For a Solution.”  It purports a solution to control rodents, using feral cats at Cal-Luthern College at the exclusion of rodenticides. During my career with The Los Angeles Unified School District there was a time that I was in charge of all Pest Management decisions for the District. During that time I had many conversations with “The Feral Cat Society” regarding the release of neutered cats on school district property as a solution to reduce the use of rodenticides. I considered the pro’s and con’s to such a choice and came to the conclusion, after some serious research, that replacing rodenticides with cats had some serious negative health potential. I say this with the understanding that reducing the use of rodenticides is an appropriate decision, but cat’s are not the answer.

    You see, feral cats represent some health risks to humans that should not be ignored. There are diseases that cats can spread and there are endo and ecto parasites that are frequently present in singular or groups of primarily outdoor cats.

    Consider the following:

    1) Cats have replaced dogs in the instances of rabies.

    2) Through cat waste matter, pregnant women can contract toxoplasmosis that can risk the health of the mother and unborn child.

    3) Through the cat flea murine typhus can be spread.

    4) Populations of feral cats can be a reservoir of feline diseases that can be spread into the pet population.

    These are just a few of the hazards of high populations of cats.

    Understand, rodenticides do have their limitations and should never be the first step to controlling rodents. There are alternatives that should always be considered first. You can start by removing sources of attraction to your property; things like exposed food that rodents prefer. That alone may not be enough and you may need to look for areas on your property where rodents find entrance, egress and harborage. Exclusion methods can keep rodents from setting up home on your property. Using traditional traps can be effective, but to be effective it may take some education. 

    Consider that using cats as your preferred method of rodent control may only be replacing one pest with another. Rodents, particularly rats, are intelligent and there is no singular method to effectively control them. It takes a strategy of multiple methods to reduce a rodent population. Reduce, not eliminate, a population is the only reasonable goal with a rodent population. No singular method, rodenticides or cats, are totally effective. 

    My suggestion, if you really want to effectively reduce a rodent population is to seek professional help. There are well trained professionals that are State Licensed that specialize in rodent control that can choose the most effective method that fits your prevailing conditions. Before considering suggestions from feral cat activist for rodent control I suggest you consider the many Pest Control Companies that have tried and true methods that include a reduced use of rodenticides. 

    William Hicks is a long time resident of Newbury Park and is retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District

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    c e voigtsberger
    c e voigtsberger
    3 years ago

    In addition to the objections listed by Mr, Hicks, any time a wild animal is taken from its home territory and introduced into a strange area it would be similar to a person being abducted from the streets of a U.S. city and dropped down in a town in Uzbekistan without money or any means of support where no one spoke a word of English and nobody cared whether you lived or died.

    Wild animals know the sources of water in their native territory. They know the best places to find food. That knowledge is passed on to them by their mother. Dropped down into a strange territory they know none of the “knowledge” they received from their mother. It is the lucky animal that doesn’t perish within six weeks of being transplanted.

    A further argument against the use of feral cats is that coyotes are quite fond of feral cats as a food source. So you drop a cat into strange territory and the animal immediately become prey for the local coyotes, who, by the way, also feed on rats. A coyote sees a cat as not only a meal on wheels, but a competitor for its own food. That’s three strikes against the cat through no fault of its own except that it has been captured by folks who think they are helping it.

    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    3 years ago

    Very good observation. To add to this, cats, particularly feral cats, are territorial predators themselves. They defend their territory from other cats.

    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    3 years ago

    I did view some of the Facebook comments. I’m glad that this brought out a conversation where various views can be expressed. Views don’t always reflect measurable truth, but I can accept that.

    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    3 years ago

    Rodenticides can not be out of the tools used to control rodents, but they should be used sparingly. they should not be the knee-jerk first thing used.

    Using exclusionary methods first should be your first tool (method) of choice. Using black lights to determine how rodents are making entry into your buildings and plugging those entries will get you in the position where other tools can be used effectively.

    Please folks, this is not a simple thing to achieve, so seek help from a Pest Control Company that specializes in Integrated Pest Management.

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