Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Promised Rats Without Poison


The Norway Rat like the cockroach is only found in abundance near human habitation. Why? It's a dirty secret and no one wants to admit it but Norway Rats are where they are and in such numbers because of garbage. Yup, plain old fashioned garbage. All sorts of things are blamed but when it's researched it's GARBAGE that supports rats. If you don't have garbage where the rats can get it, you don't have a city crawling with rats. But gosh....

Let's take some examples from Central Park shall we? Back in the day, there was a good bit of bird feeding near the Hawk Bench which supposedly should cause the area to teem with rats. Doesn't happen as the seed put down early enough in the day where the birds can see it, is gone before the rats come out. Pigeons in particular are the cities automatic daytime vacuum cleaners.

Now I've spent many an evening in and around the Hawk Bench while looking for Pale Male's roosts. Did I see loads of rats? No I did not. I saw two little ones which had been drawn to the area by kids eating sandwiches near Hans Christian Anderson late in the day for several days in a row and ditching the crusts they didn't want to eat under the stone bench there. Pale Male always aware of what is going on in his territory, watched the two rats for several days in a row, then nabbed them. No more rats near the bench. AND the trash cans near the bench are religiously emptied by the Parks employee's before dark. That is key to the lack of rats.

Now an excellent way to find out where the rats and their food are, is to consider where the owls are. Where did the Boreal Owl hang out in 2005? Near the dumpster at the rear of Tavern on the Green for one. Garbage? Yup. And near the playground in the same area.

Playground? You bet. Think about all those crusts, pretzels, and cheerios, that children drop and their caregivers either don't pick up or they end up in a trash can that isn't emptied before dark. And the pigeons are seldom able to truly clean it up before night falls. Either the kids chase them for amusement or the adults chase them out for their reputed disease carrier status. (You're much more likely to get something from another human...they have human diseases which are the ones that are head or heels most likely for us to catch. Humans get human diseases....) Then the rats move in, complaints are lodged....poison comes out. When a little sanitation would have done the same thing earlier in the game.

What about the Short Ear in the Conifer near the parking lot for the Boat House? How many dumpsters are in that parking lot chock full of garbage? And sometimes the garbage doesn't quite make it completely into the dumpster. The dumpsters aren't rat proof...the poison comes out.

When the Westside Screechs went over the park wall, where did they hunt? The stood on the window sills of the townhouses overlooking the trash can coves and waited for dinner to scuttle up.

The mishandling of garbage has proved to be the major culprit hands down in every scientific study ever undertaken. If we deal with that, we deal with the rats without poison. Poof.

Donegal Browne

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