RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Ken Cuccinelli, the man who interprets and enforces Virginia law, said a year-old Washington D.C. law could cause a flood of rats and mice across the Potomac into Virginia from the nation’s capital.
During a recent interview with WMAL radio in the Washington area about the rat infestation in Occupy D.C. parks, Cuccinelli said, “Last year, in its finite wisdom, the D.C. City Council passed a law, a triumph of animal rights over human health, where those pest control people you suggested they bring in aren’t allowed to kill the rats. They have to relocate the rats. And not only that – that’s really not the worst part – they can’t break of the families of the rats . . . it’s worse than our immigration policy.”
We read the law, the Wildlife Protection Act of 2010 (B18-498). There’s no doubt it is very animal-friendly. Pests like raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks and pigeons have to be humanely trapped – no more snap traps or glue traps. And all the humane traps must be checked every 24 hours, at the least.
If possible, the critter must be relocated, humanely, which is a tough job in D.C. because it’s mostly all city. And every effort must be made to move the whole family of animals.
But right there on page one of the Wildlife Protection Act it said “commensal rodents” are exempted – they’re still fair game for extermination. That’s your Norway rat, roof rat and common house mouse.
Also, there’s plenty of wiggle room in the law. If relocation options are not feasible, it’s okay to euthanize the animals.
We asked Cuccinelli’s office about this, and his press secretary said the rice rat and deer mouse are not exempt, and they’re also concerned about infections like Lyme disease being spread by rodents and other animals relocated to Virginia.
Here’s the entire statement:
“The attorney general says he was afraid that the D.C. law might encourage transporting rats from DC, as it encourages catch-and-release technique.” (if you read this article, you will see that wildlife experts said the same thing: http://www.arlnow.com/2012/01/12/cuccinelli-smells-a-rat-in-d-c/).
The word from wildlife control experts is that to be effective in that method, animals should be released far from their catch point -- perhaps across the Potomac in Virginia -- so they do not return. The law exempts some types of rats, but not all.
While certain "commensal rodents" (which include two species of rats) are exempted from the law, the rice rat and the deer mouse are species that wildlife control experts note are within the District that are NOT defined as commensal rodents, so they would appear not to be exempt from the law (ie. - they would be required to be caught and released, etc.)
In addition to these particular rats and mice, raccoons, squirrels, skunks and other animals known to carry rabies, Lyme Disease, and other diseases are not exempt from the law.
While rats were one example the attorney general gave, there are many other examples of wildlife that he could have used. The point he was making is that certain rats, mice, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and other animals known to carry rabies, Lyme Disease, and other diseases have the possibility of being transported to Virginia, where they could infect humans. That is why he has been concerned about this issue.”
But since it’s against the law to transport wildlife across state lines, it is doubtful there’s going to be a flood of rabid or tick-infested raccoons any time soon.
That said, the law is going to make pest control more expensive and difficult in D.C.
Commonly used snap and glue traps for rats and mice appear to be out because they could catch non-exempt animals, like chipmunks and squirrels.
Clyde Wilson, with Anytime Pest Control in the Richmond area, said snap traps (like mousetraps) and particularly glue traps are effective tools in fighting rat and mice infestations.
And that the mandate requires traps be checked every 24-hours will add to the cost of many extermination jobs, he said.
But what the Wildlife Protection Act doesn’t address is the use of junkets, PAC money and sweet stock deals to bait and trap the rats that roam the halls of Congress in our nation’s capitol.
That’s Mark's take; he would love to hear yours, either here or the CBS6 WTVR Facebook page.