Earlier this month Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli publicly spoke out about the law, which is intended to ensure the humane treatment of wildlife by animal control personnel. Cuccinelli told WMAL radio that the law prevents the use of lethal traps against certain pests, while increasing the likelihood that trapped animals — which may carry diseases or parasites — will be illegally brought into Virginia and released. The attorney general called the law “a triumph of animal rights over human health.”
Conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh later picked up on Cuccinelli’s complaint and blasted D.C. officials on his radio show.
Despite the heated rhetoric, Cuccinelli’s office announced today that D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials have begun a dialogue regarding the Wildlife Protection Act. Cuccinelli issued the following statement this morning:
I have recently expressed concerns publicly that the D.C. Wildlife Act of 2010 could potentially lead to nuisance wildlife being dropped off across the Potomac River into Virginia. Nuisance wildlife includes certain rodents, raccoons, and other animals known to carry rabies, Lyme Disease, and other diseases which can potentially infect humans. These concerns are shared by such organizations as the bipartisan Maryland and Virginia State Sportsmen’s Caucuses, the National Wildlife Control Operators Association, the Wildlife Society, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Like others, I want to ensure the humane treatment of animals, but when it comes to rodents and other animals that often carry diseases, human health must come first.
While I expressed these concerns publicly only recently, I had tried to get the attention of District officials for the last 10 months. After we brought this issue to the public’s attention last week, my staff had a conference call with Mayor Vincent Gray’s office, Councilmember Mary Cheh’s office, Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf’s office, and other D.C. officials. As a result of that call, Mayor Gray has agreed to convene a meeting within the next three months among representatives from the District, Virginia, Maryland, and Congressman Wolf’s office. I want to thank the mayor for his willingness to discuss the concerns his neighbors have.
I am hoping that we can also convene a panel of scientific and wildlife experts, as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to discuss how to best deal with the public health ramifications of this act for our jurisdictions. The alarming increase in vector-transmitted diseases in the metropolitan area is not just a D.C. problem. That is why a regional approach is needed.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli called a local talk radio show on Tuesday to complain about rats in D.C. Specifically, Cuccinelli was peeved about a D.C. law — the Wildlife Protection Act — which, since March 2011, has outlawed some common pest control practices including the use of lethal traps on certain species of rats and mice (and on other wild animals that get stuck in homes).
“Last year, in its finite wisdom, the D.C. City Council passed a new law — a triumph of animal rights over human health,” he told the hosts of WMAL’s ‘The Morning Majority‘ show. “Those pest control people… aren’t allowed to kill the rat. They have to relocate the rat. And… that’s actually not the worst part. They cannot break up the family of the rat.”
“Oh no,” one of the hosts said solemnly as another loudly gasped. But what does any of this have to do with Virginia? Cuccinelli explained that wildlife trappers might now simply take the rats they catch in D.C. into Virginia.
“Actual experts in pest control will tell you, if you don’t move an animal about 25 miles, it will come back,” Cuccinelli said. “So what’s the solution to that? Across the river.”
“It is worse than our immigration policies, you can’t break up rat families or racoons and all the rest,” Cuccinelli continued. “And you can’t even kill them. It’s unbelievable.”
(The audio can be found at 92:35 here.)
For the past few months, we’ve been hearing anecdotal evidence of a rodent resurgence in Arlington.
At least one well-known local civic leader has privately identified the burgeoning rat population in the Clarendon area as a significant problem facing the county. And then we get emails like the following:
I’m interested in whether or not there’s been an uptick recently in Arlington residents reporting rodents in their homes? Recently, I found a pair of rats that had made a home in the wall of my 6th Street S. ground floor apartment. I’d heard from coworkers and neighbors that they’ve been finding mice recently too. Apparently we’re experiencing a perfect storm of conditions that can cause rodents to enter homes: cold weather, construction nearby (we have alot), [and] heavy acorn/nut production.
Cold weather does drive mice to take shelter in buildings and construction has been known to send rats scurrying. The bumper crop of acorns is indeed credited with fattening up local squirrels — we’re not sure if mice and rats are benefiting as well.
The rodent problem has the email listserve of at least one South Arlington neighborhood buzzing.
In Alcova Heights, neighbors are sharing rodent control tips with one another. Among those weighing in are a few conflicted animal lovers, who are searching for a more humane way to get rid of the pests.
One resident expressed frustration with the options.
Well, these mice are turning out to be extremely smart…or the humane trap is not extremely well designed. I put peanut butter in there, thinking they’d spend a little more time while the doors closed and then I actually thought about driving them out to the woods where there might be an abandoned structure or something they could live in. But they keep slipping away. I will probably need to take harsher measures, but you should have seen them staring up at us last year after we poisoned them. Like they were asking us for help, and to stop. So sad… I may be a soft heart when it comes to animals.
Another mentioned an alternative method of mouse execution.
I told you my story of how it broke my heart to kill them. I was crying, so; I understand exactly how you felt last year. I “kills” me to see any animal suffer. I do not know any good ways to get rid of them – I just know that it is best “to” get rid of them because they are very hard once they get a foothold.
I guess you could do like the one person suggested and put them in your freezer to have a peaceful freezer death…. However, then you might need to replace your freezer….I know I would!
Finally, one resident elaborated on the method. We’re still not sure how you’re supposed to get the mouse in the bag, though.
Put them in air tight zip lock freezer bag, before freezing. Leave them there overnight, the next day put them in the regular trash (outside).
Where are you finding rodents, and what, if anything ,are you doing to “thin the herd,” so to speak?
A review of health violations by the Washington Examiner revealed that every food court vendor in each mall has been cited for one or more “critical health violations.”
Signs of roach or rodent infestation were found in sixteen food court vendors, the Examiner reports. Subway and Texas BBQ Factory get the dubious distinction of being cited for infestation in both Ballston and Pentagon City.
To see the health violations for yourself, click here then search for “4238 Wilson Blvd” (Ballston Common Mall) or “1100 S Hayes St” (Pentagon City mall). The search box is in the upper left-hand corner.
Flickr photo by Daquella Manera.
Hey Look, There’s Nightlife in Pentagon City — When the shoppers go home for the day, the mice come out to play. At least that’s what one graveyard shift employee at the Pentagon City mall told WJLA (ABC 7). She reported seeing as many as ten mice scurrying around the food court at night. She even captured some cell phone video of the rodents inside the new Yogen Fruz frozen yogurt stand. WJLA says their story prompted a visit from an Arlington County health inspector. We’re sorry to hear that the inspector had to take a break from tackling the county’s rampant lack of bread packaging in order to address a trivial rodent problem.
WUSA9 Attends Change-of-Government Debate — If you’ve been following the back-and-forth over the proposed change to Arlington’s form of government, you won’t learn anything new from this story. WUSA9’s Brittany Morehouse went to last night’s change-of-government debate at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department and found a passionate but polite crowd. Morehouse summarized the arguments made by both sides, then described the genesis of the ballot initiative. “The issue stems from a beef between fire and police unions and the County Manager,” she said.
More Revelations in Wake Of Arlington Cemetery Scandal — Arlington National Cemetery spent more than $5 million on computerizing its antiquated records system with little to show for it, according to Salon.com. The site reports that criminal investigators have looked into questionable contracts authorized by Arlington National Cemetery Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham. Also this morning, the Washington Post is reporting that it has found several gravestones of unknown origin lining the banks of a small creek on the cemetery grounds. The cemetery says it’s investigating the finding.