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This week I’m going to do what few service companies do: encourage you to call my competitors. But wait, there’s a catch—there’s always a catch.  More on that later.

It’s come to my attention there are pest companies giving really low prices for rodent control… prices so low that I know exactly what they’re up to: placing bait stations—those small black boxes that hold poison—around the exterior foundation of the home. That’s the easiest and cheapest way to do rodent control, and, by the way, it requires that the company come back monthly to put more poison in the stations—for a fee. A bargain isn’t always a bargain in the long run.

The problem is that the rats, mice, chipmunks and other critters that feed on the poison die outside… and then coyotes, foxes, bobcats and owls eat those poisoned animals, becoming poisoned themselves. That’s called “secondary poisoning” and it’s a serious problem.

So, what’s the responsible way to get rodents out of mountain homes? First, trap the rodents with snap traps baited with peanut butter. When the infestation is under control, seal the openings around the exterior foundation that allow rodents to enter. This usually includes repairing the buildup/crawlspace door. If the home has no foundation then blocking rodents out is more difficult. The best option is—working from the crawlspace—seal the openings around pipes that allow rodents to climb into kitchens and bathrooms. A rodent control job is essentially a small construction project.

If a company’s bid to rid your cabin of rodents seems high, by all means, get other bids. Just please be sure that the low-price company isn’t one of those second-rate operations that poisons the forest. All’s fair in love and war—and business—but poisoning the bobcat that hunts mice in your back yard isn’t fair at all. In fact, it’s just plain wrong.

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