Wednesday, June 28, 2023

If You LOVE Oro Valley, Please Be Respectful of Our Environment and Our Wildlife

LOVE does not usually get involved in HOA issues, however, this issue that was brought to our attention over the past several months goes beyond HOA involvement. It is an environmental issue and a wildlife issue. As such, LOVE has decided to report on it.
Unintended victims - Poison rodent traps are a danger to all wildlife and pets
A local resident (with a background in botany, biology, and environmental sciences) discovered that poison rodent traps were being placed in the common area of their HOA which is also a 90-acre wildlife corridor. She also found chlorine and bromine tablets (used to treat backyard pools) in the wildlife corridor poisoning the soil ecosystem. She made numerous attempts over several months to inform her HOA board of the harm that these poisoned traps can cause to pets, wildlife, and children and implored her HOA to prohibit the use of them. Her pleas were ignored.

Numerous agencies were contacted for help
Not one to give up easily, she then contacted the mayor and town council, the Oro Valley Police Department, the HOA management company, multiple state and local legislators, multiple government agencies including the Pima County Sustainability and Conservation Office, and the EPA. She was repeatedly informed that each agency did not have the authority or the jurisdiction to investigate the matter and they advised her to contact another person or agency instead.

However, the EPA did forward her complaint to the Arizona Dept. of Agriculture/Pest Management Division who “investigated” the matter but took no action. The resident who filed the complaint stated that the report was filled with inaccuracies, that they did not conduct a thorough investigation, and that they failed to document all the traps that they found as they walked around the property together. They did state that “our Tucson inspector and/or the Inspector Supervisor will select a few random and unannounced dates and inspect the property to ascertain if the issue occurs again, at which time we will address it.”

She was initially told by a Town of Oro Valley employee that the HOA had contracted with a pest control company to place the poison rodent traps in the common area. However, she was later told by the pest control company that it was actually private residents who had contracts with them to set the poison bait traps.

Pest control company pleads ignorance of the rules
She questioned how a pest control company can place highly toxic substances in a common area and wildlife corridor without authorization or permission from the HOA board. She informed them that it’s actually a violation of her HOA’s CC&R’s to place poison traps or anything in the common area. Their response was simply to claim that they didn’t know anything about the HOA rules and regulations and to complain that “I am sick of these HOA’s.” 

The problem compounds as the poisons make their way up the food chain
Rodenticides kill more than just rodents. Other animals who are not the target of the traps also end up being poisoned. The toxins go up the food chain all the way to the owls and other raptors and to the bobcats and coyotes that eat a rodent that’s been poisoned. The poster at right is from the National Park Service explains this in greater detail. [Click to enlarge.]

What if a child is poisoned?
She wondered if the reason that multiple people and agencies all seemed to be dismissing her complaint was because she is trying to protect wildlife and they don’t see that as being their responsibility. She then asked the question: “If a child is poisoned by highly toxic rodenticide that was illegally placed on HOA property by a pest control company, who is responsible?” She was informed by an employee of the EPA that if a child were poisoned by one of these traps, the pest control company would be the responsible party.

If this happened to your child or grandchild, wouldn’t you expect some government agency to act on this? And shouldn’t they be proactive rather than addressing it after someone’s child has been poisoned?

Not in my backyard
It appears that the homeowners who have private contracts with the pest control company apparently do not want to place the deadly poison on their private property to possibly poison their children and pets so they directed the pest control company to place them in the common area instead despite the HOA regulations forbidding this practice.

Her efforts were initially met with great resistance, however, after she spent “hours, days, weeks, and months trying to find an entity” to assist her, she was eventually told by her HOA Board that they would be removing all the poison rodent traps from the common area and they would be sending a notice to all homeowners that this practice is not allowed and is a violation of the HOA covenants, conditions, and restrictions.

Legislation is needed
She believes (and we agree) that “There must be stricter enforcement and legislation on these deadly toxins that kill wildlife…People use these poisons way too casually.” She has now opened casework files with some Arizona legislators in an effort to get some laws enacted.

Although we cannot stop people from placing these poisons on their own private property, other homeowners can voice their concerns about poisons being used in the HOA common areas and in wildlife corridors. Please understand that you cannot dump toxic chemicals into a wildlife area. Our residents need to show respect for the environment and wildlife in Oro Valley. We all have a right to a clean, healthy, and safe environment for ourselves, our children, our pets, and wildlife.