Re "They scamper, we stalk," Column One, May 9
This informative article about the rodent problem in Los Angeles unfortunately left out the intense suffering these mammals experience as a result of poisoning and, even worse, glue traps. These smart, resourceful animals scream and will chew off limbs and skin in an attempt to escape the traps. They ultimately die of starvation or dehydration -- sometimes it takes days -- if they are not fortunate enough to be found and dispatched sooner. It can be a disturbingly unforgettable experience, as it was for me almost 20 years ago when I foolishly used a glue trap to catch something doing me no harm.
After reading this article, I thought I could further help the eradication of rats and save a few precious songbirds along the way. Living in the foothills is a glorious privilege, but the pleasure comes with some pain. We have rats and many other assorted fur-bearing creatures. I have killed enough rodents to make my wife a full-length, rat-skin coat.
She has steadfastly refused the gift, but I still kill them, and after years of experimentation and networking, I have found that peanut butter is the best bait, bar none. Only Disney's mice like cheese.
La Canada Flintridge
In his otherwise helpful article about protecting ourselves against rats, James Ricci mentions the use of rodenticides, or rat poison, which is often in the form of a substance that takes days to kill. We in the wildlife rescue/rehabilitation field urge homeowners and exterminators to forgo the use of such poison because the ill rat, before it dies, is often eaten by another critter, such as an owl or hawk, which then becomes ill and may be eaten by a larger predator, such as a coyote or mountain lion.
In other words, the poison works its way up the food chain, killing precious wildlife. A live trap is much more environmentally friendly. Even better, attracting barn owls to your area by placing owl nesting boxes around is a way to aid Mother Nature's natural balance.