Battle Against Rats Continues as Ferndale Urges Against Rodenticide
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 15, 2020)
Ferndale, MI – As the leader of the movement to bring a backyard chicken ordinance to the city, Laura Mikulski – who is now a council person – also became the champion of a different cause – eradicating rats.
People’s concerns that chickens might attract rats drew Mikulski down a rabbit-hole of rodent research, and in 2016 she and some pals started the Ferndale Rat Patrol. In the years since she’s become the local expert, giving presentations about safe rat prevention and removal in cities across SE Michigan.
And on Monday, she was pleased to introduce and pass a resolution urging residents and businesses not to use anti-coagulant rodenticide (aka rat poison), and requiring city staff not to use it unless it is uniquely necessary. Any use would require a written report directly to city council.
The problem with rat poison, Mikulski explained, is that it doesn’t just kill rats. People’s dogs and cats have fallen ill after ingesting poison, and animals that feed on rats like possums, owls, and hawks, are also being killed by the “secondary exposure” of the poison in the systems of the rats they eat.
“I watched an entire family of owls die over the course of a summer – one by one – because of poison,” Mikulski told Oakland County Times following the meeting. Seeing the suffering and loss solidified the need encourage safer methods of reducing the rat population.
The death of raptors also removes one of nature’s own rat control methods. “This is counter-productive to our goal of exterminating these vermin within our city,” Mikulski said.
The resolution urges residential and commercial property owners to cease the “sale, purchase, and use of anti-coagulant rodenticides in Ferndale.” The resolution does not ban the use of rodenticides in the city, it’s simply a plea for folks to do so. Mikulski told Oakland County times that city staff and the city attorney are researching what it would take to institute a ban. “It’s a lot more complicated,” she said. “The resolution is a step in the right direction, but we are not done. The city is looking into it.”
In her Ferndale Rat Patrol presentations, Mikulski teaches people how to identify the places rats are running and feeding, how to use dry ice in burrows to kill them while they sleep, and how to most effectively use rat traps.
In addition to the implementation of poison-free practices in the city, Mikulski said at the meeting “all of that together with our grassroots movement and potentially a little assistance from the city in the form of reduced cost traps, educational materials, as well as educational sessions – all that together should, ultimately, move us a little bit closer to that goal of having a safe, effective rodent control program within the City of Ferndale.”
For more on poison-free ways to tackle a rat problem, check out our previous story about a presentation Mikulski did at the Berkley Public Library.