Board Sends “NOTICE REGARDING PEST CONTROL PROGRAM”
Our thorough response can be found below.
Friday, July 19, 2019, 4:50 pm
From: Marck Rossy
To: Eton Square
Subject: NOTICE REGARDING PEST CONTROL PROGRAM
July 19, 2019
July 20, 2019
NOTICE REGARDING PEST CONTROL PROGRAM
On Tuesday, May 14, the management of Eton Square, First Service Residential (FSR), reported to the Board that it had received complaints about rats congregating behind the residences located at 6914 Ellingham Circle and leaving their droppings around the building. Given the risk of transmission of diseases and other concerns for the health of the community, the Board authorized FSR to contact a(1) licensed pest professional immediately to assess the situation. The company, Alexandria Pest Solutions (APS), suggested that we undertake efforts to remove the nearby food sources, repair areas in which the rats were nesting(2), and install bait stations to control the population. APS represented to the Board that they would perform the latter service regarding the bait stations in conformance with federal regulations and would monitor and service the bait stations regularly.
After APS installed the bait stations, someone from the community began vandalizing them, as well as (illegally)(3) posting flyers on mailboxes, inflammatory(4) posts on NextDoor, and operating a website about poison at Eton Square. This person has chosen to remain anonymous(5). All these campaign activities contain some kind of misinformation(6) about the process the HOA is using to remove the rodent infestation. For example, the website quotes from the Fairfax County Government website on the baiting and trapping of wildlife; however, the Fairfax County Government considers rats to be pests. They are not legally protected. Attached is the link to the county government website at https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/environment/rats-mice .
The Board first sent an email to all residents in the building about the bait stations, followed by an email to the entire community. After reviewing this matter with the Association’s attorney, the Board learned that it was required to send those notices before the bait stations were installed. The Board has acknowledged its mistake and won’t repeat it. While the Board understands it will always have its critics, the Board doesn’t have any tolerance for vandalism and interference with the work of its contractors paid by the Association. For example, someone has broken the bait stations by filling them with rocks and/or sand(7) – damaging the effectiveness of those stations, wasting the money spent on them, increasing the costs to the owners of Eton Square, and, of course, leaving us with unresolved complaints about a rat infestation near residences. The infestation and misinformation represent a threat to the health of the residents and the property values of the community.
(8) Rats are carriers of disease. They also burrow into on materials such as insulation, siding, electrical wiring, etc. A female may have up to five litters a year. The gestation period is 21 days and a litter may be up to 14. Rats become mature in five weeks and can breed at that time. The Board believed the complaints about an infestation were reasonable and warranted actions by the Association. The actions of a resident to actively interfere with the decision of the Board constitutes a hazard to the community.
Through various sources, the Board has identified a resident as the probable perpetrator and has initiated proceedings to investigate the involvement of this resident in the vandalism experienced by the community.
It is the Board’s intention on behalf of the HOA to continue the process of removing the rats from the property and prevent the problem from getting worse. Unfortunately, due to the vandalism, the process will most likely take longer than the three months, as stated at the June board meeting and will cost more for the prolonged program and damage to APS equipment. The Board is committed to maintaining a healthy and prosperous community on behalf of the residents of Eton Square.
Board of Directors
Eton Square Condominium
Marck Rossy, CMCA, AMS
Community Association Manager
11351 Random Hills Road, Suite 500 | | Fairfax, VA 22030
Please share this information with neighbors that may not have received it.
1) “contact a licensed pest professional”
The previous assumption that only one service provider was contacted is confirmed by this statement. Therefore, additional professional opinions were not acquired. This indicates a lack of due diligence.
2) “repair areas in which the rats were nesting”
From the proposal provided by Alexandria Pest Services (See activity log):
A. A successful remediation program for eliminating the existing rodent problem and preventing subsequent rodent problems should include:
a. Thorough inspection to determine areas of activity, areas requiring structural repair & pest proofing and strategic locations for rodent elimination asset installation.
b. Remediation of sanitation issues of concern and other such matters.
c. Installing EVO rodent stations and in areas that are conducive to rodent activity.
d. Ongoing monitoring and service to maintain a rodent free environment at Eton Square Community.
e. Removal of all bird feeders and seed on ground to prevent rodent feeding.
f. Remove water source around Coffer.
g. Replace vent on pipe located up against foundation. (see picture)
From further research (See research)
Keeping rats out
Rats can enter buildings through many openings:
• Holes as small as 1 inch wide (about the size of a quarter).
• Heating vents.
• Gaps anywhere electrical conduits, utility or air conditioning lines, or water pipes enter a building.
• Seal holes and other appropriate openings with heavy-weight material (1/4-inch hardware cloth or heavy-gauge screening is recommended).
• Plug gaps in walls and floors with copper mesh like that used for scouring pads.
• Finish sealing openings with caulking or foam insulation. Because rats can gnaw through these, though, combine them with wire mesh.
While the provider recommended several structural repairs and/or improvements, none have been addressed. Research also indicates that further improvements could be made. This leaves the building(s) susceptible to future issues.
3) “(illegally) posting flyers on mailboxes”
The posting of information may be considered not “allowed” but it is not illegal – especially considering the absence of any other notice form the Board and public safety concerns. Please note that there continues to be no postings present for the general public to be aware of potential harm to themselves or their pets in this area.
4) “inflammatory posts on NextDoor”
“Inflammatory” is a subjective term. By definition, factual statements are objective.
5) “This person has chosen to remain anonymous.”
At the time of this post, this group has not received any attempts of contact either via NextDoor.com or through this website. Additionally, many residents have expressed concern for retaliation. (See retaliation.)
6) “All these campaign activities contain some kind of misinformation about the process the HOA is using to remove the rodent infestation. For example, the website quotes from the Fairfax County Government website on the baiting and trapping of wildlife; however, the Fairfax County Government considers rats to be pests. They are not legally protected.”
The Fairfax County information in question refers to squirrels and other wildlife. While rats are not legally protected, most other forms of wildlife are. These bait boxes pose a risk to non-targeted animals. Extensive research confirms this risk. From the introduction:
- Poison bait boxes present a high level of risk to humans, wildlife and pets.
- Smaller mammals, such as squirrels or chipmunks can enter the boxes. Any animal that enters can also exit. Once a contaminated animal is in the environment, any other animal can become poisoned by encountering and / or eating the contaminated animal. This is called “relay toxicosis” or “secondary toxicosis”. Non-target animals – wildlife and pets – can be killed as a result, including birds, hawks, eagles, vultures, dogs, cats, foxes and others. Humans, including children can also come into contact with poisoned, contaminated animals.
7) “For example, someone has broken the bait stations by filling them with rocks and/or sand”
We question the veracity of this statement. As previously noted:
The boxes cannot be opened without the use of a special key.
The boxes are designed to be installed with sand or dirt in the bottom to ensure the weight of the box. (Please see activity log)
From the manufacturer’s website:
“Single locking mechanism provides quick servicing combined with a station that is strong enough to provide a high level of tamper-resistance…. Key location guide; symmetrical key self-orients into the lock”
“It comes pre-installed with a concrete block that is completely enclosed with no bolts or screws that can break or crack.” Photos indicate the use of sand and/or concrete.
“The station can only be accessed once it has been opened with the key.”
8) “Rats are carriers of disease. They also burrow into on materials such as insulation, siding, electrical wiring, etc. A female may have up to five litters a year. The gestation period is 21 days and a litter may be up to 14. Rats become mature in five weeks and can breed at that time. The Board believed the complaints about an infestation were reasonable and warranted actions by the Association. The actions of a resident to actively interfere with the decision of the Board constitutes a hazard to the community.
Through various sources, the Board has identified a resident as the probable perpetrator and has initiated proceedings to investigate the involvement of this resident in the vandalism experienced by the community.”
In the email message, this copy was formatted differently than the rest of the material. This indicates that the material was possibly “cut and pasted” from another source. Regardless, if there was a concern about damage to “insulation, siding, electrical wiring, etc“, then structural improvement and repairs would have been addressed. They have not. (See #2 above)