Saturday, April 22, 2006

Beacon's Beach Poisoned?

The Beacon's Beach parking lot is a popular place for locals to hang out and gossip about current events. The big talk lately has been concerns about the blue poison pellets the city spread across the cliff to kill off the squirrel population.

Now the squirrels can really get out of control, especially during spring time. Seemingly hundreds of them, the squirrels burrow throughout the cliff and under the parking lot which isn't good. Sometimes a few bold squirrels will creep out onto the sand and steal your lunch out of your backpack while you are out surfing if you don't zip it up all the way. Other than that they are pretty cute and can be entertaining. A few local birds of prey make a nice living feeding off the unsuspecting squirrels. That is always rad to see, better than the Discovery Channel.

Now, before you write me off as a tree hugging hippie left wing freak hear me out on this. It's not good to poison the beach where you hang out and play with your kids. The recent rains are washing the poison pellets onto the beach. There is poison in the sand where your kids dig and play and where you lay out your blanket and picnic.

If the birds of prey eat poisoned squirrels they may die. The city may be violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

I have heard from several sources that a housecat belonging to a woman who lives across from the Beacon's parking lot has died. I haven't spoken to this woman personally and if anyone knows her encourage her to take her cat to the vet and have the cause of death confirmed. (Did the cat ingest a pellet or kill and eat a poisoned squirrel?)

People are saying that the city used rat poison at Beacon's. As I understand it this is against state law. You cannot just use rat poison to kill squirrels if it endangers, human, pets or wildlife.

Next time you are checking the surf at Beacon's look for small blue pellets, about 1/2 inch in length and 1/8 inch in diameter. They are cylindrical in shape. Witnesses saw them being tossed from the parking lot and on bushy patches.


  1. Poisonous decisions by CityApril 23, 2006 12:29 AM

    Our City, unfortunately, has no heart, and very little common sense. Please, report this to the proper agency. Maybe the Sierra Club will know to whom we can turn. Yes, poison is always bad. They could have set "safe traps," at the very least.

    Happy Earth Day everyone!

  2. A City run by squirrels self destructing.

  3. Well, it seems that some explaining is required to settle some nerves although it may not satisfy everyone. I have not been to Beacons to check out the baiting program. From the discription, it sounds as though the city is using P.C.Q. pelleted rodent bait on the bluffs. This bait is .01% 2-(Diphenylacetyl)-1,3-indandione and 99.99% inert ingredients. It is very effective against meadow mice, deer mice, house mice and ground squirrels(Spemophilus beecheyi, S. belding). It currently is the accepted bait with the least amount of "secondary kill". It is not perfect and must be used correctly to be safe and effective. For ground squirrels one handful(2ozs.)should be scattered every 40-50 sqft. near active burrows and runways. It needs to be repeated every day for four or five days. The bait should not be piled. The scattering of the bait takes advantage of the ground squirrels natural foraging habits and limits domestic animal intake as well as other wildlife intake. Idealy, we would not use the product in areas accessible to domestic animals or leave it exposed on the surface where it might be picked up by birds. The product is an anti-clotting poison. Animals must feed on it for five or six feedings with no more than 48 hours between feedings. The product is toxic to fish and great care should be taken not to bait in such a manner that any enters adjacent bodies of water. In cases of injestion by domestic animals and humans, induce vomiting, and in unusually severe cases intranvenous or oral administration of Vitamin K with blood transfusions is antidotal. This is the same treatment as for hemorrage caused by overdoses of bishydroxycoumarin(Dicunarol).
    There are a number of reasons for the control of ground squirrels. 1.)In the area of the bluffs the burrows and runways have the ability to undermine the stability of the bluffs. 2.) Ground squirrels are known flea carriers and fleas are the main vectors for bubonic plague. As I am sure everyone is aware there was a case recently reported in the LA area. If you want to do your part to eliminate baiting, stop feeding the cute little rodents. If they can not find an easy source of food in the immediate bluff area they will not establish burrows and runs there. Pass the word about not feeding them or get used to the city having to bait. It is really that basic. Sorry.

  4. I'm for keeping the squirrel population under control. The death of the housecat is a concern but of course, cats should not be on the cliffs because they can disturb wildlife.
    I live pretty close to Beacon's and the cheeky squirrels raid my bird feeder often.

  5. It's surprising the local PETA group hasn't protested the squirrel poisoning.

  6. Not satisfied with poisonous baitApril 24, 2006 12:24 AM

    Squirrels are just trying to adapt. I don't believe in poisoning them, period. Dangerous to them, and us. Ultimately, our quality of life is reduced when we judge that our parking lots, our always decomposing bluffs require deadly solutions.

    We can stop feeding the squirrels. I have not fed them, to begin with. My folks, near Thousand Oaks have many squirrels in their bluffs, and they have never eroded. The errosion is not caused by the squirrels in this case. Please don't mess with Mother Nature, or Father Time will take it's deadly toll.

  7. dead squirrels smellApril 24, 2006 9:33 AM

    I was heading out for a surf yesterday morning and a walker was picking up dead squirrel who had died right in the middle of the path (trying to send a final message of defiance?).
    I find it amazing that they can drop poision pellets all over the place when we have kids walking down that path and playing on the beach.
    There should at least be some warning signs posted when they are using that poison. A pest control guy said that the stuff the city was using in really nasty and he was surprised they would do right out in the open at a community beach trail.

  8. I keep forgetting what a problem squirrels are and how destructive they can be. Let's kill 'em all and then there will be no more cliff erosion and besides, they are full of fleas and germs. What about the ENDANGERED migatory birds, and hawks and owls that eat dead squirrels who can die in a matter of days from this poison? Ok, so you don't care about them, either. There's plenty more birds. Cool. Of course the dead birds might get eaten by a coyote, but they are a problem, so one less coyote doesn't matter. Those domestic pets who are running around the cliffs, well, hey they're just breaking the law so they're taking their chances. Aren't we all? When a dead squirrel washes out to sea or gets dropped by a dying bird, its' remains will be eaten by a bottom feeding fish or lobster. Just order the chicken when you go out this summer. No problem!

    I did a little research on this poison and it can last up to 4 months, so let's say some toddler picks up some pellets and eats them. The pellets are kinda cute and look like candy. Aw, so what, they can alwasy go get some Vitamin K. Besides the amount of posion would be so low that chances of this happening are slim.

    But what if it happened to YOUR kid? Some people are allergie to peanuts, and some people are deadly allergic to soy sauce, even if used in small amounts. My point is, even if it is only ONE person who could be poisoned, it's not worth the risk.

    One more thing, since the bluffs are so steep and so dusty, in four months it will be real easy for the pellets to break apart and be inhaled by anyone walking down the path. Maybe they'll be wedged in someones' bootie and then transported into the ocean. They could be stuck to a shoe and then transported to the sand, and when high tide comes up, washed into the sea. Aw heck, we already have pollution so what's one more chemical, eh?

    I've never seen anyone feeding squirrels. I have seen them in the trash cans at Beacons.

    Friends, just Google "Squirrel Poisoning" and you will find dozens of sites, from animal groups to hunters and farmers that warn about the danger of using poison to kill squirrels. It all goes WAY beyond the immediate "fix" of killing small mammals that pose a potential problem. What poisoning does is create a BIGGER problem. Potenially, of course.

    I'm surfing Grandview this summer, thank you very much.

  9. UC Davis and Stanford University used bait stations, and there were protests over the poison.

    Why would Encinitas city management order the poison pellets to be tossed out into the brush?

    Is this another case of the city not following its own rules-no pesticide use where it can flow into water?

  10. that is messed up - it could have been a nearby resident, you can buy that blue pellet stuff at Home Depot. Did someone actually see city staff do it? The way that guy described using it - spreading it out instead of bait stations - might imply it was a professional job.

  11. Email the city council and ask who, where, and why.

  12. I just talked to someone at Beacons who saw the EXCEL logo on the car and he's seen them toss poison pellets TWICE. I called Maggie Houllihan 3 days ago. No response. I called the head of Park and Rec today, no response. Maybe one of you can get lucky. I also talked to another staff person who said "...they made this mistake with Swamis a couple of years ago".

    Head of Park and Rec: John Frankin: 760 633 2755 (you'll probably get his phone machine-hell, I'd leave mine on if I were in his shoes).

    There is a City Council meeting this Wednesday at 6pm. There is a 15 minute time period before the meeting called "Oral Communications" where any one can speak for 3 minutes. I plan on speaking. Anyone care to join me?

  13. at beacons two days ago there was a little toddler putting shells in his mouth. I hope none of those pellets end up on the trail or on the beach.

  14. This is from the label on PCQ. "Keep out of reach of children and pets. Treated baits should be placed in locations not accessible to nontarget wildlife and domestic animals, or in tamper- resistant bait boxes. If swallowed by human beings, domestic animals or pets, this material may reduce the clotting ability of the blood and cause bleeding. In such cases, intravenous and oral administration of
    Vitamin K1 combined with blood transfusions is indicated as in
    the case of hemorrhage caused by overdoses of bishydroxycoumarin (Dicumarol). This product is toxic to wildlife and fish. Use with care when
    applying in areas frequented by wildlife or adjacent to any body
    of water. Treated bait exposed on soil surface is hazardous to
    birds and other wildlife. Keep out of lakes, ponds, and streams
    It is a violation of State and Federal laws to use this product in a
    manner inconsistent with its labeling."

  15. Thank you... the last poster.'s more chilling informaton from:

    1. EXTOXNET- Extension Toxicology Network (

    As for research on the effects of these blue pellets otherwise known as PCQ or "diphacinone":

    REPRODUCTIVE EFFECTS: no data available
    TERATOGENIC EFFECTS: no data available
    CARCINOGENIC EFECTS: no data available

    "The half life (if absorbed in humans), is 15 to 20 days".

    This stuff can be absorbed through your skin, and lungs. Obviously, what could kill a squirrel, cannot kill you. But what if you are in the first trimester of a pregnancy?


    Breakdown in soil and groundwater: low
    Breakdown in water and sunlight: rapid
    Breakdown in vegetation: no data available

    The Encinitas Park and Rec staff head, John Franklin, told my friend over the phone that this chemical is "EPA APPROVED".

    According to CHEC'S HEALTH HOUSE-The Resourse For Environmental Health Risks Afflicting Your Children" :

    "This chemical is considered an UNCLASSIFIED CARCINOGEN by the World Health Organization, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. (

    ...and one more thing...


    "Pesiticides are not "SAFE". They are produced specifically because they are toxic to SOMEthing".

  16. I still think that giving teenagers BB guns would have been the best way to kill all the squirrels.

  17. Ok...I just spoke at the City Council meeting, and had my 3 minutes to address this issue. Jeeze, the pressure!!!! After I finished, both Maggie and Christy publically stated that they would attempt to place this issue on an agenda item.


    Why it needs to be discussed is beyond me.

    Hello!!! COMMON SENSE?!!?

    Anyway, if anyone wants to see ORAL COMMUNICATIONS "in action", (which is mercifully about 15 minutes into the meeting), tune in to Channel 19 tomorrow, Thur 4/27 at 6pm. There are two other speakers besides myself and they're cool.

  18. CalEPA should have information on pesticide use and violation of the directions.

    The use of the poison should be in accordance with the label. If squirrels aren't mentioned on the label, the city may be in violation of use and could be fined?

    The city's method of throwing the poison out close to a known public path and recreation area may have tiggered the need for warning signs that should have been posted. Another violation?

  19. These little critters are digging holes in the bluff but they are so cute. I understand the concern that they might cause Beacons to fall into the Ocean, but the City is planning to redo Beacons soon, so I say leave the little guys alone. They are innocent God's creatures who do not deserve to suffer. C'mon City have some heart.

  20. I like the part about giving teenagers BB guns to shot the squirrels. Good stuff JP.

  21. I happened accross this web site and have to post a few short comments regarding some issues of these type of squirrels.

    We have plenty of them around here in Upper Lake too. However my land's flat and fairly big. If these are the Beecheyi Spermofolus type squirrel, then the bait they are using, if for rats, won't harm the squirrels if the pellets are of the type used in common house hold use for rats. I went through training at a wildlife rescue center to be able to rescue and reintroduce back into the property. As one of the pups liked to run around the house, she got into the box of rat poison so I took her to a vet and called the poison center on the box to try and save it. She had eaten some of the pellets and placed a cheek full under my leg while laying down as if to play "Bury the Stash" under my leg.

    Well, the poison center told me that rat poison pellets will not harm squirrels and the vitamin K is not even necessary to keep their blood from coagulating, nore a prescription from any vet. Their systems are just not the same and do not react to poison rat pellets like rats do. Please take my word for this and save the money on a call to Decon Corp, who will tell you the same.

    Let me explain a little something recently discovered about these little critters. There are many different species but not all species are related and some are not even related to the Rodentia Family. Regarding the Beecheyi, they are more related to the APE family, like you or I, and UC Davis not too many years ago did a complete brain, central nervous system, synapse, gene and many other very indepth tests, and found they are more related to the Caucasian Monkey that any other species. This is really no suprise to science as there are many researchers who believe man may have originated from a Squirrel like creature.

    Yes, they will sometimes get out of control, are protected by Federal and State Law. One must have a permit, while other entities like schools, the city, or public parks, do not require a permit to kill them.

    There is a downside to putting rat poison in a public park the way described in that it's a hazard to children, just for the fact it's a poison and yes it will kill mice and rats, which the poison can then harm birds of all types who eat the flesh, and smaller essential organisms we need for the ecosystem, including some species of fish in water near a area where enough poison is put out to wash in. If it's the ocean, I doubt very much that by the time it's obsorbed into the water of an ocean, it's enough to kill a shrimp. A pellet size may be different, so why even take a chance?

    The smaller beecheyi can be a nuesence but there has never ever been on record a case anywhere, where a cow, human or any other living species has tripped into a squirrel hole and broken or sprained an ankle. That's a hoax and total mythe by people who hate them.

    Their bark is loud and they can bark for hours. What's very interesting, is they are one of very few animals of any species that can throw their voices to confuse preditors. This works very well with cats who try to eat them.

    The Beecheyi does not carry Rabbies, and there has never ever been one single case of rabbies reported that is linked to a Beecheyi or squirrel of any kind I could find in the history of man. They are very clean creatures and their hair is adapted to dirt, sand and other soils, and take dust bathes and prean each other and themselves like Monkeys do, you will never find a flea or tick attached to a squirrel unless they are very sick, have a long term illness or are alone, but even alone they are usually clean of most parasites that take blood. I've seen and examined lots of squirrels and never found a flea in the Beecheyi. They most likely have a natural oil protection that is effective against parasites.

    Other species of squirrel will take all the food they can find to store for the winter, while the Beecheyi only takes very little as it hybernates, (One of only 4 known species that go into true suspended animation) and Nasa has been studying these little creatures to see how they do this in hopes of finding something to aid in long distance space travel, believe it or not. You may find this interesting and fun to look up for yourself on the Internet.

    Funny how mythes can get started and how much can be said that is just not true, or true in some cases as far as these very cute critters are. They are fun to watch and rarely attack unless cornered. They run as a natural built in defense. I feel bad for them because they have to be so careful in life. One little tiny mistake and they die. They also have a very short life span of only about 4 years in the wild and 5 years max in captivity.

    I believe they are great candidates for the study of longer lives for people. Especially genetic testing as they do with worms that are now living 7 times their normal life span thanks to labs that study them for longevity.

    One last thing. When they do get out of control, nature has it's own way of correcting this with birds of prey and other animals like Bobcats, cayotes, and many other preditors. If the park closed a few days a week, then these animals will move in to take as many as possible once nature or preditors get the word out to their fellow preditors that there is a free squirrel lunch where no people are.

    This was a very interesting forum. Thank you very much for the good reads.



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