I'm so intimidated by poets, especially the ones who seem capable of reaching through your rib cage and playing with the rhythm of your heart. Maureen is that kind of poet.
Requiem for a Great Horned Owl
by Maureen Eppstein
They desisted for a while. But fourteen years later, a local newspaper, the Palo Alto Weekly, did a follow-up story. It quotes the Manager of Grounds, who does not recall that there was a clear link between the death of the owl and ground squirrel poison. But whatever was said 14 years ago, one thing is clear. Stanford is once again controlling the ground squirrel population with poison. For nearly a year, Stanford has been killing ground squirrels by giving them food laced with an anti-coagulant, which causes the animals to internally bleed to death over several days. The program has upset campus bird watchers, many of whom remember what happened to the owl family.
This year, I decided to follow up. I read on Stanford’s website that the university had launched an Integrated Pest Management program in 1997, the year after the Palo Alto Weekly article appeared. Since then, the Grounds department at Stanford has been dedicated to using an integrated pest management approach to provide suppression and long-term control of pests on campus, with the least amount of impact to the environment, non-target organisms and human health.
Herb Fong, who was Grounds manager during the 1980s and ‘90s, is now retired, but agreed to inquire on my behalf as to the department’s policies. Today I had excellent news. Herb writes: “I confirmed with staff that they are continuing to use trapping as the means to control the ground squirrels and no baits are used on the campus.”
If an 8,180-acre campus, mostly woods and grasslands, can stop using poisons, so can any other property whose owners care about wildlife.