Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rats Infest Meiners Oaks Neighborhood

Residents of the rat-infested area of Meiners Oaks are cautioned to remove food sources, such as this makeshift bird feeder.

RELATED: Alternative Poisons

By Sondra Murphy
Forget about driving around looking at Christmas lights this winter. One Meiners Oaks neighborhood is becoming an infamous nocturnal attraction.
Residents report hundreds of feral rats multiplying out of control, roaming the streets in search of food and shelter, jumping out at people from the bushes and dropping from trees. Inhabitants hear rats screaming at night and see their dead carcasses in the middle of the road the next morning.
Usually, a variety of possibilities could be the cause of a rat influx. Nearby construction, severe weather or weed abatement can flush rodents into the open. In this case, however, neighbors are pointing at one residential property operating as a rabbit and rat rescue facility as the source of hundreds of rats spilling into the neighborhood around El Conejo Drive.
As reported in the OVN last February and March, more than 200 rats were removed from an El Conejo Drive home after months of neighbor complaints about the population and stench.
Unfortunately, an unknown number of rats — then estimated by Animal Control workers to be in the hundreds — evaded capture and sought refuge nearby. Ventura County agencies advised residents about rodent abatement techniques, but by then, a rat population explosion had taken place.
Catherine Essel lives with her parents, both in their 80s, at the house neighbors say is the cause of the infestation. “These are not our rats. They have never been our rats,” said Essel. She does not know where the rats originally came from. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to resolve this.”
Her efforts include working with the Humane Society in trying to find homes for the rats. Meanwhile, she said that she has caught neighbors throwing poison under her fence, killing 20 rabbits and poisoning her dog.
Essel said that, since last February, she has worked with the Humane Society to try to solve the rat problem without killing any of the animals. “We’re setting out flats of pennyroyal, which works as a rodent contraceptive,” said Essel about the aromatic herb. “We have cleared food from outdoors and feed our cats inside. We pick the fruit from our trees as soon as it is ripe, but the neighbors leave theirs hanging there.”
Her father added, “We feel harassed. Everyone is pointing the finger at us, as if it was our problem only,” said David Essel. “We’ve been doing our part and we feel they have not been doing their part.”
Catherine Essel said that she feeds rats only when catching them for rescue groups to pick up and, when people witnessed this, they misunderstood. There are two main groups she works with. One is called Wee Companions, and the other is Second Hand Rats. “They took several hundred rats already,” Catherine Essel said. “What the Humane Society called wild rats, these groups called blues. They said Ojai rats are known for being friendly and the colors are in demand.” Catherine Essel estimates the rat problem in her yard is nearly solved, has another pickup scheduled next week and expects them to be clear by the end of the year.
Ken van Doren of Wee Companions confirmed that the agency has been working with the Essels and plans to pick up more rats next week. “I can understand what the neighbors must be feeling, with there being so many at first,” said van Doren.
Catherine Essel said that in collecting and caring for the rats, the family develops a kind of affection for the rescues, and objected to what they saw as rough treatment by Animal Control officers when they picked up the rats last year. She said that having rats on their property has not been to their advantage, since rats will attack their rabbits and have destroyed their foliage and garden. The Essels simply believe that poisoning is a cruel death and even rats deserve to be treated humanely
“We spent thousands of dollars and hours to have a rock wall built because the rats ate through the old wooden one,” said one neighbor who wished to remain anonymous. “Still, the smell is horrible. We can’t sit out front and have lunch, or anything, because the odor makes the food taste awful.” This neighbor is very frustrated by the lack of assistance offered by county agencies and said she has had nightmares about the infestation.
David Essel said that he paid for half that rock wall. He also worked to clear his outside storage, which many neighbors have not. “We also pick up the dead animals and take them off the road,” he said.
Nearby neighbor Ben Barraza has seen rats out in the street. “Sometimes you go out at night and people are standing there with flashlights, watching them,” said Barraza. “Sometimes on warm nights, you get kids out there wearing head lamps, shining them on the rats, then hitting and killing them.”
Rats were sometimes covertly removed from the neighborhood and dumped in other parts of the valley, transplanting the problem and creating secondary poisoning incidents around Creek Road. The Humane Society caught 370 rats, most dying from poisoning, from that location in February.
Solving the problem is not simple. “The vector program established in this county in 1985 focused on mosquito control,” said William Stratton, manager of the county’s Environmental Health Division. “Ventura County has no rodent abatement program in place. We don’t have the staff and we don’t have the baits.”
Because rodents are ever-present in human communities, environmental health officers offer pamphlets and consult with residents having rat issues, but lack the resources to solve the problem. “What we look at when we investigate these sites is, are there conditions that we can enforce?” said Stratton. Enforceable violations are things like improper solid waste disposal, stockpiled junk or overgrown brush.
Pete Kaiser is the manager of Ventura County planning enforcement relative to zoning ordinances. He said that zoning in this case pertains to pets and that residents may have up to 20 pet rabbits, hamsters, gerbils or rats contained outdoors. “The problem is also that you have people nearby feeding and watering other types of animals,” Kaiser said. “The drought is compounding the situation.” He added that the rats in question might have genetic imprinting that brings them back to where they came from when their resources elsewhere are exhausted.
Stratton said that the county continues to investigate this case to see what codes relate to the case that they may enforce. First District Supervisor Steve Bennett confirmed that his office is working with the county for such progress. “We’re looking at trying to find out everything we can to legally deal with this. Right now, our hands are tied, but more conversations are scheduled to explore ways to solve the problem,” Bennett said.
Ventura County offers rat control advice on its web site for people with rodent infestations. Besides tips on eradication, rodent factoids are listed, such as how a female rat can give birth to more than 25 offspring per year. It is not difficult to calculate the expansive potential of hundreds of fertile rodents.
“I saw barn owls swooping down and feeding on the rats,” said Brian Holly, a biologist who works as an environmental consultant. “I saw about 30 rats in, maybe, a 10-minute window of time. The coloration suggested multiple generations of them. That means their actual breeding pool has gotten larger.”
The lack of assistance by the county perplexes many. Health concerns include rabies, as well as virus-containing particles spread through the dust of disturbed rodent droppings, similar to the deadly hanta virus. “With the number of rats there, you would think the county would be really concerned,” said Holly.
Another neighbor concurs. “We feel we are being placated by those we’ve been trying to get to help us rid our neighborhood of rats and that no one actually believes us when we say the scene on our street could be that from a horror film,” said Cindy Gordon.
Even after residents have removed pet food or grains from the reach of rats, fruit trees can continue to lure them. Rodents may travel along the tree canopy without ever touching the ground. This makes trimming branches imperative for successful eradication.
According to Jolene Hoffman, director of Ojai’s Humane Society of Ventura County, the most important component for rodent control is: “It needs to be a group effort. The main thing people need to do is clear their ivy and brush. Get rid of junk; that’s where rats breed and hide out.” Hoffman said that if poison is used, “Make sure you take any precaution to protect your children, animals and neighborhood. This is a terrible situation and it is expensive. But the problem won’t be solved until everyone is involved.”
Stratton agrees. “Unless you incorporate an integrated approach, the population will return,” he said.

32 comments:

Mark Nash said...

Rats are delicious food and could be caught and cooked to feed the needy homeless. Why not see a problem as a solution in disguise?

bunny luv said...

Like cows and chickens, rats are intelligent, social beings; we are all god's children!!

Anonymous said...

I live in meiners oaks.I havent seen any rats. Oh I have cats they must be eating them .

The Real Mark Nash said...

Whoever is impesonating me is a coward. For one your statement is moronic, and hiding behind someone else's name defeats the purpose of having an intelligent discusson. I suspect "James Hatch" is behind this. James Hatch is a scourge on us all and, like the rats, needs to be cleansed. Mr. Hatch show yourself. You make sweeping generalizations about everyone and everything. But when called out you hide (refer to James Hatch for mayor.) You digust me.

The real Mark Nash said...

That's right digust. It's one step down from disgust.

Ojaian said...

CALL THE COUNTY!! WE PAY FOR VECTOR CONTROL IN OUR TAXES!! THEY NEVER WANT TO HELP AND THEY ARE ALL OVERPAID AND UNDERWORKED! THIS SHOULD BE ENTIRELY IN THEIR LAP. THEY HAVE THE RESOURCES BUT NEVER WANT TO USE THEM. THEY ALWAYS CRY OF LOW FUNDS! GET A PETITION FOR THEM TO CLEAN IT UP! THIS IS GROSS AND THERE SHOULD BE NO EXCUSES ON WHY THE COUNTY HAS NOT TAKEN CARE OF THIS. IT IS A HEALTH ISSUE THAT NEEDS A SOLUTION ASAP WHICH SHOULD START WITH VECTOR CONTROL. THE COUNTY NEEDS TO DO THEIR JOB!

former Ojaian said...

I once thought the reputation of Ojai and vicinity was exaggerated, but not any more.

Just read again this excerpt from the news article, and think again about how many absurdities are included all in this continuous excerpt:

“These are not our rats. They have never been our rats,” said Essel. “I’ve spent thousands of dollars trying to resolve this.”
Her efforts include working with the Humane Society in trying to find homes for the rats.
Essel said that, since last February, she has worked with the Humane Society to try to solve the rat problem without killing any of the animals. “We’re setting out flats of pennyroyal, which works as a rodent contraceptive,” said Essel about the aromatic herb. “We have cleared food from outdoors and feed our cats inside. We pick the fruit from our trees as soon as it is ripe, but the neighbors leave theirs hanging there.”
Her father added, “We feel harassed. Everyone is pointing the finger at us, as if it was our problem only,” said David Essel. “We’ve been doing our part and we feel they have not been doing their part.”
Catherine Essel said that she feeds rats only when catching them for rescue groups to pick up and, when people witnessed this, they misunderstood. There are two main groups she works with. One is called Wee Companions, and the other is Second Hand Rats. “They took several hundred rats already,” Catherine Essel said. “What the Humane Society called wild rats, these groups called blues. They said Ojai rats are known for being friendly and the colors are in demand.” Catherine Essel estimates the rat problem in her yard is nearly solved, has another pickup scheduled next week and expects them to be clear by the end of the year.
Ken van Doren of Wee Companions confirmed that the agency has been working with the Essels and plans to pick up more rats next week. “I can understand what the neighbors must be feeling, with there being so many at first,” said van Doren.
Catherine Essel said that in collecting and caring for the rats, the family develops a kind of affection for the rescues, and objected to what they saw as rough treatment by Animal Control officers when they picked up the rats last year."

WHICH PART IS THE MORE ABSURD? I like the bit about how the rats from Ojai are special and their "colors are in demand".

dude, they're vermin said...

Like, dude... rats BREED!!

No such thing as taking away a few of them every week to deplete the population.

As long as the habitat is there with the food spread around for the other menagerie of pets, the rats will continue to breed EXPONENTIALLY.

This totally seems like a genuine public health nuisance and the County needs to abate it.

James Hatch said...

Dear Ms. Nash,

Thank you for your late night rant; I suppose the street corner got a little cold. James Hatch would not impersonate you or anyone.

Bunny luv,

Like cows and chickens, rats are a delicacy in certain parts of the world. Our local jails have an untapped food source.


To all,

It amazes me how the scum, be it in the form of gangs or rats, freely walk the streets. It is time to clean house.

vinny da' rat said...

Jim Hatch, you barn-rat, are you actually tyler Shluman from O Post?? you both have big hair!! i smell subtrafuge'!!

www.Rataway.com said...

Try Rataway.com Go to Rats Hate www.Rataway.com
or call Rick Suddes 805 646 2177
it works well to stop rats, mice squirrels,raccoons,woodpeckers, dogs,cats, puppys,etc.. from chewing on cars,trucks, motoer homes, plastic water lines, houses heating & air conditioning equipment. It non- poisonous and safe around pets,children service personal

Anonymous said...

If the pied piper could afford to live in the 805, maybe he could blow a tune and have all the cute little Ojai rats with pretty colors follow him up to Matilija Dam and ka-blewie. And in turn all the rat meat flowing down the newly redesigned Ventura River would feed the steel head trout migrating up the river and help jump start their reintroduction. But alas this solution is based on a fictional character, but most of James Hatch’s posts seem to be based on fiction. Know any tunes James Hatch? If you DISGUST the Mark Nash I know, you really must be abrasive and disgusting or digusting or whatever. Continue to fight the good fight Mark Nash.

James Hatch said...

James Hatch supports the removal of Matilija Dam. James Hatch has offered to have the dam removed for $5 million, much less than what consultants have already charged just to consider the removal. (See comments from Nov. blog of The Demolition Man.)

I like your idea of feeding the steelhead. James Hatch is a sportsman, a champion of the outdoors.

The Mark Nash I know is a whimpering pinko. Mark Nash has no fight.

James Hatch writes from experience, skill, and a longstanding knowledge of the facts.

MORAL MAJORITY said...

james hatch are you available for speaking engagements??

Anonymous said...

You'll need to talk to his press secretary, Mark Nash

the real Mark Nash said...

Leave it to James Hatch to avoid an issue and turn it into something ridiculous. Mr. Hatchs' statements or simply the rants of madman. Please have some cohesion in your arguements James, make some sense. It would be easy if you just dissapeared but I enjoy your moronic discourse. The more you say the more you contradict yourself. Keep up the good work James.

James Hatch said...

James Hatch addresses all issues, at all times. James Hatch is available for speaking engagements-he is a regular on the real circuit.

Ms. Nash, you make no sense. Your policies make no sense. Perhaps you might find support from all the criminals you would like to see roaming the streets, as they commit crimes and you cry it is society's fault. Enough is enough, you politically correct pinko communist.

the real mark nash said...

Once again you prove my point Mr. Hatch. Keep it up.

Bravo

Scuzzo42 said...

Forget about Nash and Hatch (sounds like a lover's spat. What about the filthy RATS!

James Hatch said...

Scuzzbucket,

There is no love lost between the great James Hatch and a third rate blogger such as Marcy "It's Society's Fault" Nash.

The rats are out there. It's time to put out the cheese and set the traps.

Sondra Murphy said...

Talk about rats coming out of the woodwork. How did a discussion about rodent infestation turn into a puerile insult contest?
The Real Mark Nash?
The Great James Hatch?
I haven't read anything real or great from either of you on these pages, though suspect each of you are capable of both.
In case you had not noticed, people were making excellent points. I guess you were too busy amusing yourselves to stay focused.

James Hatch said...

Dearest Sandra,

Let's talk about the real issues. Let's focus on the real problems. When I talk about issues and problems, I mean issues and problems.

You see, the problem is Mark Nash and his left wing thought process. The issue is how can James Hatch convince enough people that Mark Nash is a communist.

Anonymous said...

SONDRA: you have the ability to ban these commenters.

The real Mark Nash said...

Sondra,

My sincerest apologies,

Sorry I don't fit your criterea that would allow me to engage in a discussion on your employer's blog. I will try harder next time to let somebody (James Hatch) discredit my name more often. Remember, we all make mistakes.

Sorry I did'nt stay on point, but if you took the time to review some of my past blogs, you would realize that I add an intelligent discourse on the issues that affect us all.

I am sorry, and I apologize. Thank you for allowing me to continue to express my mind.

Sondra Murphy said...

Dearest James,
If only it were only true that any single person was the "real problem" in this city/county/state/country/world, what an easy one to solve. (I can certainly think of more obvious people to assign that criticism to.)

I don't know if Mark is a Communist or not but, in this nation, that is no crime, nor is any thought process – left, right or otherwise. Some might even argue that the right to express differing thought is our greatest freedom.

I must admit that the third-person references to yourself are off-putting and make it difficult to take your comments seriously. Is that your intent?

Mark,
Thank you for spelling my name correctly. I should have specifically said "these RAT pages," for I did not mean to extend my comment to other subject areas on this blog site. MY mistake, for which I apologize.

I certainly understand you wanting to defend your name and did not intend to scold you into any apology. I have no criteria that you or anyone must fit and don't feel you owe me an apology, but accept it in the spirit it was given.

To both,
It would take much more than requited insults for me to want to ban either of you. With all the injustice in the world, I wonder why you are so focussed on each other? I'm beginning to suspect you are alternate personalities of a single individual.

If we could bottle the toxicity emitted between you, the Meiners Oaks rat problem could be eradicated by the New Year. I would still worry, however, that the substance captured would risk secondary poisoning.

I guess I just misunderstood the point of blogs under news stories. Enjoy.

James Hatch said...

Mark Nash should be banned from this website. He is like a wolf in sheep's clothing. He has clearly convinced you, Sondra, that he is innocent. Beware of him, he is a danger to freedom as we know it-He represents the left wing agenda that will have everyone thinking the exact same way.

He is a communist, and that is all we need to know.

Anonymous said...

Is it an insult to state the obvious?

Here's the obvious - Hatch and Nash are crazy.

This blog has become overrun with these two nuts biting at each other over nothing.

Mark - no need to worry about what James Hatch has to say. No one reads this bog except probably 20 lonely people (myself included). And as such, there is no need to defend yourself.

James - you are nuts. I'm not sure if this whole thing is a joke or not. But, as someone else wrote this a while ago: a sign of insanity is referring to yourself constantly in the third person.

James Hatch said...

Anonymous,

Get a grip on reality. I raise a great point. Or should I say, James Hatch raises a great point: Communism is alive and well and is no less of a threat now than it was twenty five years ago.

You liberals can cow tow all you want to the sympathetic whiner, Mark Nash. Let's face it, (s)he's a joke.

I am sick and tired of idiotic comments to the effect that this is somehow a joke. This is a matter of life and death. Do we want a society run by communists? I sure don't, and all good Americans don't either.

Enough is enough with the pinko infiltration in Ojai.

Anonymous said...

They should trap and poison them all, they are outside animals and will never be pets. We have people trying to catch them and adopt them out as pets. This is a serious health issue and shouldn't be allowed. I feel sorry for the women but fact is fact. these rats carry fleas, mites, worm, and etc. Do you want your kids playing with a rat from a pet store that could have came from the outside.. and not only that. but now breeders are bring them to there homes and exposing them to there rats.. this isn't just a huge health risk but they are passing them off as their own rats!!.. not only that they are selling them to out of state pet owners and breeders.. keep these damn filthy wild rats where they belong, dead in a bucket.. The Ojai county should be taking measures to ensure that no-one is taking the risk of taking these animals and making them into pets!!!

Rat bits can cause serious health risks and injury like Rat-Bite disease that can even kill people.. Please Ojai county.. take care of this problem and ban people from taking these animals in to adopt out as pets.. they are putting innocent children and people at risk.!!

wild is wild, if it's born outside it's wild! And shouldn't be treated as an animal that was bred by a breeder. You wouldn't do that to your gutter rat in your home!! Kill these animals, and ban people from taking them and adopting them out!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me??? But I am a part of a pet rat forum with members who will do ANYTHING to rescue these rats and keep them as beloved pets. Even travel distances to find homes for the poor critters. And THEY HAVE DONE SO! Several times!! The ones who have taken these rats have become very attatched to them. THEY ARE FRIENDLY HARMLESS ANIMALS!! Everyone who has adopted them said they were skittish at first. (But if you were such a small animal being handled by a giant human for the first time, you would be too) But the animals skittish at first, have come around to sweet loving pets who loved to be held and even give kisses with their lil tongues like dogs do. NONE HAVE BITEN!! THEY DO NOT CARRY DISEASES! THEY ARE NOT WILD ANIMALS!! They are DOMESTICATED!! When someone abandoms a pregnant dog or cat because they cannot take care of the babies...does it make the babies wild??? No It only makes them STRAYS!!! Who would make great pets if they had a human to care for them! Same difference with the rats! Domesticated rats do not carry any diseases that can be given to humans. Rat bite fever is in wild rats. And its hard to contract, even if biten. Because a rats teeth has little to no saliva on it. So how do you think we would get diseases from these animals?? Its a known fact that rats are one of the least likely small pets to bite. They will only bite if they feel threatened! DONT ABUSE THEM AND THEY WONT BITE!! They do not bite out of hatered or in anger. They bite to only protect themselves. When you are that small, thats the only defense you have. But they are actually incredibly sweet natured animals. I have owned TONS of pet rats in my lifetime. They make the greatest pets ever!! ANd nothing anyone says will change my mind, because I already know the truth about them. They are intelligant creatures who quickly learn their names, they even come when you call them. They can be potty trained. Learn to do tricks. They are very social animals. And they LOVE people!! One of my current rats just cannot stand being without me next to him!! He will jump in my arms when I open the cage. He gets upset when I put him away. He comes when I call him. And loves to play games. He especially loves to give his mama kisses!! Rats are the most interactive small rodents to have for a pet. They play games like fetch(yes fetch like a dog) tug-o-war, chase, and other lil games. They even play with the dog and sometimes even the cat.(if kitty is friendly) They are also very emotional. They become depressed when theres no one to play with them. They get excited when you come home from work. Most of all, they bond with people. And become very attatched. You are the world to them. They even show affection similar to how a cat does. They will cuddle up with you. Often up on your shoulder they will rub against you neck to show affection, like how a cat rubs your legs to show affection. A Rat just loves to be with their owner! And again they give kisses!! Now who would want to harm these loving creatures? If you even had the slightest idea of what they are like or how much they bond with people, you would not want to harm them! These bad lil stories about how rats bite and carry diseases is the most false thing i have ever heard. They are the sweetest animals and i love them more than anything in the world. SO come on people, give these little animals a chance at a happy life. There ARE PEOPLE WHO LOVE RATS GOING OUT TO RESCUE THEM!!! So give them a chance to rescue them, and find good loving homes for them. Okay so I admit it, they probably cannot make enough trips to save them all. But do not harm them. The humane society is taking them in tons at a time. If they cannot find them homes, let them be put to sleep humanely. Not poisened or ran over!! You know how much pain you go through being poisened?? You dont want to know!! DONT put these pet worthy animals in pain like that. They are one of God's creatures like any other animal. It hurts to read the awful things you guys said in the posts!! How can anyone be so cruel? They are friendly animals. They do not mean to be pests. All they need is a little love and time with people being handled and they will become loving pets like any other pet out there!

Anonymous said...

I had a friend who had rats, and she loved them very much.. and it was people like you who took wild rats inside to sell to pet owners that caused her to contracted Rat Bite Fever.. so don't tell me it can't happen since it CAN..

these animals are pest.. they should be treated as pest..and I'm sure most of my neighbors in Ojai agree..and that's why they are poisoning them, and trapping them as much as possible..

You should stick with the rats that are bred and kept in your house and leave the pest to the traps that they were meant to get caught in.. I would be damned the next time I go to a breeder and pick up a wild Ojai rat in the process instead of something being bred and raised in captivity which would make it domestic

as for your dogs and cats born out side.. any one who has ever tried re-homing a stray cat knows it's almost impossible.. i know I've tried several times.. they scratch. piss on everything. destroy everything and they seem to love to bite and scratch people.. unless you catch them right at 2 weeks or younger then 6 it's a lost cause.. the same with dogs born out side once they are over a certain age the best thing for them, is the gas chamber!!.. they are aggressive and a threat to people. Most dog attacks are more from strays then dogs raised in a loving family.. I know..

so if you a breeder Shame on you for passing off these pests as home bred rats.. I'm going to investigate every group, every forum until I track you guys down and expose every rat breeder in on it.. this way you guys can be avoided for future adoptions. To loving families who want pets raised in loving homes, not out in the wild covered in fleas, mites, worms and etc..

and don't say rats can't carry diseases that's just plain STUPID!!

Anonymous said...

I support the Essels wholeheartedly. They are fine people, fine citizens in the community, trying to do the right thing, instead of merely the easy thing. They care.