Many B.C. cities play host to large rat populations. The latest Orkin Rodent Rankings list is now out, with Vancouver number one. (Black Press File)

Many B.C. cities play host to large rat populations. The latest Orkin Rodent Rankings list is now out, with Vancouver number one. (Black Press File)

Salmon Arm council unmoved by plea for exemption from rodenticide ban

RJ Haney Heritage Village and Museum wants to continue using poison in order to protect artifacts

The City of Salmon Arm received kudos for its March 8 ban on rodenticides on city properties, but the appreciation was not unanimous.

Norma Harisch, president of the Salmon Arm Museum & Heritage Association, wrote to city council recently to request an exemption to the rodenticide ban in order to continue to allow the use of indoor bait stations at RJ Haney Heritage Village & Museum.

“Our association is responsible for the preservation of 24 buildings, many over 100 years old. Most of the buildings are unoccupied and checked periodically during the closed season from mid-September to mid-May. Stored in these unoccupied buildings are priceless artifacts and vehicles. Given the unique nature of the property and assets, it is difficult to monitor each building closely for rodent activity. We are concerned about the damage rodents could do without the use of rodenticide,” Harisch wrote.

She stated the village is set in a forested area with large fields that are home to a robust rodent population,.

“The bait stations set by Orkin are all indoors and are maintained on a regular schedule. If we cannot use the current system, we will need to use kill traps that need to be emptied after being tripped by a rodent. For the safety of our staff, we would require a technician from Orkin to conduct the maintenance of the traps. Orkin has informed us that there will be a call-out fee each time they have to come to reset traps. We are also doubtful of the efficacy of the trap system to properly manage and control the rodent problem,” she wrote.

Read more: City of Salmon Arm receives compliments on its stance on rat poison

Read more: Potential effect on raptors prompts Salmon Arm rodenticide ban on city property

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren, chair of the city’s environmental advisory committee, had put forward the motion to ban rodenticides on city properties in order to protect all the birds of prey which might eat a poisoned rat and die. She offered to do a month-long study by setting and emptying snap traps at Haney in order to determine where and how bad the rodent problem is.

“It appears that they’ve had rodenticides put out every single day for the past 12 years,” Lindgren said of Haney.

She argued that if rodenticides are used and mice get in, they can run around a building for two weeks chewing up artifacts until they die, whereas snap traps are instant.

“So they have no opportunity to eat anything else.”

Coun. Debbie Cannon said it’s admirable that Lindgren would carry out a study, but she thinks with all the artifacts the village must protect, the ban makes sense. She also noted the village has a cat which has not been harmed by eating rodents, nor have there been notice of negative effects on wildlife there.

Read more: Rodenticide ban finding traction in B.C. communities

Read more: Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coun. Chad Eliason said he thinks the ban is too sweeping as it includes food services.

“We didn’t think of this one, with our all-encompassing policies. I knew this would come up. What we forgot is food service,” he said, noting the city owns buildings that provide food service. Eliason suggested the city support exemptions as rodenticides are industry standard for food service.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond did not support an exemption.

“It’s horrifying to know, to think about what consistent use of this does on birds of prey… I understand people don’t like mice, I don’t like them either, but I’m relying on Haney to take care of this problem in the most ethical, environmental way possible, and I can’t emphasize enough how I would like to see those rodenticides removed as soon as possible.”

No motion was made by council to provide the village and museum with an exemption to the rodenticide ban, so the ban stands.
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