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Squirrels Die in Rittenhouse Rat War
11 April 2004
by Anai Rhoads
AnaiRhoads.org - In an effort to preserve Rittenhouse Square from rat infestation, Philadelphia launched a series of exterminations last Autumn that proved too much for the park's squirrel population.
The spokesman for the Philadelphia Health Department, Jeff Moran, reported well over a dozen squirrels who have died as a result of the "clean-up" efforts by the city. Moran claimed the rats were a health hazard and that using rat poison was the only alternative at the time.
Out of the fifty or more borrows of rats, only six remain since the beginning of the extermination campaign in 2003.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) handed over a petition to the Mayor of Philadelphia, John Street, asking the city to put an end to this ongoing issue. Alternative methods, that do not involve killing animals, can be met successfully if the city is willing to go that route. So far, Mayor Street has declined comment since receiving the petition on Thursday.
"A park littered with the bodies of dead and dying squirrels hardly seems like the ideal solution to a rat problem," says PETA Wildlife Biologist Stephanie Boyles. "The city needs to clean up its act, literally, instead of waging war on wildlife."
More than 300 signatures were gathered for the petition, most from residents that live near the poshly designed park. Many fear squirrels aren't the only possible victims of the rat poison. Other animals are just as affected, of which include felines, canines and birds.
In the letter to Mayor Street, Boyles writes, "Although the poison is intended to kill members of Rittenhouse Square Park's rat population, poisons are indiscriminate and pose an obvious threat to any dog, cat, bird, mammal, or any other "nontarget" species who may ingest them, including children. Anticoagulant labels warn against these hazards precisely because other animals may eat the poison directly or ingest the bodies of poisoned animals and become ill or die. The bodies of dead and dying poisoned animals pose a greater health threat to Philadelphia's inhabitants than the existence of healthy rats who live in the city because resources are plentiful for them."
Residents can take matters in their own hands by using more caution when they leave their trash out. Using the cans designated by the city or appropriate metal trash cans helps ward off rats from the area. Choose cans with latches on either side for more security.
Always avoid overfilling the can to the point where the lid is ajar. If you find the lid will not close, have a second can available to discard your trash in.
The city stepped up trash collection from twice a week to twice a day in 2003, which appeared to lower the rat sightings in the park and surrounding areas.
The Mayor can be reached at:
The Honourable John F. Street
Mayor of Philadelphia
The Mayor's Action Centre
City Hall, #143
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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