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By Joyce Westner

July 3, 2023.  New lawn signs will be springing up soon, even though it’s not election season yet.  A group of concerned citizens in and around Winchester are planning to install “Say NO to rat poison” signs to raise awareness of the problem of dead bald eagles and owls.  Started by an Arlington group, the signs are being promoted by Friends of Horn Pond, a Facebook group which also keeps track of where the deadly poison bait traps can be found.  

There are bills pending in the state legislature which would require pest-control companies to file digital reports about where they use SGARs (Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides), so its use can be compared with the predator bird deaths of owls and eagles.  The Boston Globe ran an editorial about the problem https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/07/03/opinion/rat-poison-sgar-bald-eagles-owls/

Behavioral ecologist Dr. Prassede Calabi says, “Rat populations in some European countries are already immune to SGARs.”  A Winchester resident, Calabi also points out that even a slower non-anticoagulant bait also kills the predators of rats, which causes the rat population to increase.  “We want more predators, not fewer!” she adds. 

The town is working towards decreasing the use of SGARs and is experimenting with electric “smart” traps although funding the labor required to empty the traps and maintain them isn’t in the budget yet. 

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