Can Wildlife in the Home Lead to Fires?
I received a question once regarding the causes of house fires. The person claimed to quote, Billy the Exterminator who allegedly said, “1/3 of all house fires are caused by wildlife. ”
I responded with a “Wow!” That is quite a claim. I don’t know if Billy said this or not. But let’s explore the possible accuracy of the claim.
Do Wildlife Cause a 1/3 of all House Fires?
http://www.ehow.com/facts_5150506_leading-causes-house-fires.html says that cooking causes 36% of all house fires. Well, if that is true than that means there is still room for wildlife to cause a 1/3 of all house fires.
But, farther down on the page, it says that electrical problems are a leading problem. Interestingly it says that people overloading the line is the cause. Now here is the challenge.
Electrical Caused Fires Doesn’t Really Tell Us Anything
What is the real cause of the fire? Overloaded lines or the rodent gnawing (assuming the rodent actually damaged it) or both? The problem is how would we ever know? It is very likely that fire destroyed the evidence of rodent presence as the insulation of the wire would be burned away. Plus the heat might melt the wire removing any sign of gnawing.
A more reliable source on the causes of house fires consult the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Fire-Prevention/fires-factsheet.html
I don’t know if Billy made this claim or not. But without more evidence, I have serious doubts that wildlife causes a 1/3 of all U.S. house fires no matter who claimed it reality.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator. He is available for lectures, workshops, and legal testimony on wildlife damage related topics.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus infection is a serious disease contracted from inhaling or coming into physical contact with droppings and rodents contaminated with the virus. With a 30% death rate for those infected, it is scary enough to warrant caution.
Don’t be Paranoid Get Educated
The challenge in getting information on zoonotic diseases is to find information that is both accurate and readable. Thankfully, the good people at the Centers for Disease Control have created a booklet on the subject.
Download your pdf at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/pdf/HPS_Brochure.pdf . You will be glad you did.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control professional and is available for consultation, writing, research, and public speaking about wildlife damage management issues and the dangers of the animal rights protest industry.
Restrictions in Rodenticides a Boon for WCOs and PCOs
After much review, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has decided to restrict the public’s access to second generation anticoagulants (brodifacoum, difethialone, bromadiolone, or difenacoum). The reason for the change stemmed from concerns over public safety and the hazards second generation anticoagulants posed to non-target animals. Unlike first generation anticoagulants, second generation anticoagulants are more toxic (requiring a rodent to feed only once to achieve a lethal dose) and more persistent in that predators and scavengers that feed on poisoned rodents can have dangerous build up of toxicant levels in their own system.
Final Risk Mitigation Decision for Ten Rodenticides
The EPA summarized its ruling in a page entitled “Final Risk Mitigation Decision for Ten Rodenticides” found at http://www.epa.gov/oppsrrd1/reregistration/rodenticides/finalriskdecision.htm lists the key restrictions as follows:
““Consumer Size” Products (Products containing ≤ 1 pound of bait)
- May not contain brodifacoum, difethialone, bromadiolone, or difenacoum (the second-generation anticoagulants).
- Loose bait forms such as pellets are prohibited.
- Each retail unit must include a bait station.
- Bait refills may be sold with bait stations in a single retail unit.
- All outdoor above ground use must be in a bait station and be applied within 50 feet of buildings.’”
What This EPA Regulation Means for WCOs and PCOs
The bottom line is that homeowners will no longer have access to the faster acting second generation toxicants as of June 2011. Therefore, I predict that customers will be more likely to hire professional rodent control services because:
- they will become impatient with the slower acting (but still effective) first generation toxicants.
- the added cost of buying baits protected with bait stations will reduce the gap between over-the-counter products and professional services,
- the culture of just putting out poison will slowly change as more people will appreciate the role of exclusion and habitat modification (which many will hire out.)
Business Action Plan for WCOs and PCOs
While no one knows the future for certain, I suggest that
- WCOs get their pesticide license as soon as possible to enable them to have access to the second generation anticoagulants.
- PCOs and WCOs enhance their knowledge of trapping and exclusion control methods in preparation for marketing non-toxic approaches to rodent control.
I suggest that those companies able to seize the toxicant free and low toxicant control market will do well in the new regulatory environment.
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator and consultant on wildlife damage management issues. He is available for teaching, research, public speaking, and more.