To the editor:
Like many other Sanibel-ians, I have used the last eleven weeks of social distancing and isolation to get reacquainted with my beautiful island home. Daily walks on the beach, walks in the Lighthouse woods looking for migratory birds, biking down roads and housing areas that I have not seen in 30 years – this has all been a time of renewal for me.
There is good news – the beaches are clean; the Gulf seems to be a lot cleaner this year than last; there are mullet jumping in the canals and at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge; our shorebird nesting populations are doing well; and our nesting wading birds, especially the yellow-crowned night herons, are at it again all over the island.
But, wait, where are the red-shouldered hawks? Ten years ago, I used to hear and see them in just about every other block on the island. But not today. They used to take care of some of the marsh rabbit population, animals which now brazenly nibble on island grasses along every one of our 25 miles of bike paths (and in my yard).
And what else have I seen? Brown rats, in the middle of the day, stumbling down bike paths, foot paths, in the woods, unable to move more than a few steps at a time. Now I am not a trained biologist, but this seems to me to be an indication that the brown rats I am seeing are in the final throes of life, having ingested rat poison (rodenticides), making them very easy prey for any predator, who, upon consuming said brown rat will also be consuming the rodenticide. Poisoned rat, hawk eating poisoned rat, rats dies, hawk dies, rabbits proliferate.
I had a rat problem in my home in 2018 and solved it with physical and electronic traps. Neighbors, tell your pest control company – no poisons!