Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday postponed action on a proposed sustainable pest control resolution after aldermen raised questions about which animals might be considered pests.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, questioned the definition of “pest” in the resolution as including any animal “that is, or has the potential to be, injurious to other living organisms or property.”

She recalled an incident in which she spotted workmen next door to her home chasing an opossum with shovels trying to kill it.

The workman, she said, considered the opossum to be vermin, like a rat.

“But an opossum is an animal you’d want to have in your yard,” Fiske said. “It eats slugs and other insects” that people might otherwise use insecticides to control.

“I can’t see any animals, with the exception of rats, that should be considered injurious to other living organisms,” Fiske added.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said the resolution needs better definitions of which creatures might be a pest, and which ones the city needs to take action to address.

The proposal was developed by the city’s Environmental Board as a plan to guide city employees in handling pest control issues.

Board member Susan Kaplan of 2230 Pioneer Road said it was based on similar policies and ordinances around the country and that the board had reviewed over 100 such documents in preparing the proposed Evanston resolution.

The main objective of the proposal is to mandate that city workers use use the least environmentally dangerous yet effective methods of pest control.

A revised version of the proposal is expected to be on the committee’s agenda for its next meeting, April 5.

Opossum photo above from Wikipedia.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Opossums rock
    I love our opossum on the 1900 block of Sherman, I hope our opossum survived the winter. Neighborhoods with opossums have greener lawns and no mice.

  2. Pests?
    Four decades ago, in its then infinite wisdom, our city went on a vermin eradication kick. Their method of choice was to place poisoned bait in city alleys and in selected back yards.

    At about that time, a young housecat of ours slipped through an open door and stayed outside for a few hours. He came home vomiting, then turned lethargic before curling up, panting, in a corner. A few hours later he was dead. Forty years later, I can still see him taking his last breaths.

    His and my personal trauma aside, extrapolate that experience to someone’s loose dog (yes, they DO get loose) or indoor/outdoor cat or to some beneficial creature like a possum, a skunk or, heaven forbid, a curious young child.

    I know the City will come up with some “foolproof” plan for pest control. But I don’t trust a City whose knee-jerk reaction to dealing with a number of feral cats is to euthanize them. Are these the people to implement anything in a truly intelligent manner? Ours is the city that allowed ComEd to harvest thousands of trees along the Skokie Swift tracks, annihilating an urban wildlife habitat and forcing raccoons into local attics and deer onto city streets.

    For the first time in a long time, wildlife is adapting to urban areas nationwide. A month ago a majestic young bald eagle–all 3 1/2 feet of it–landed on my back yard fence. Other raptors have been sighted in Evanston. What would stop these crafty predators from snatching poisoned bait?

    Perhaps it’s time for the citizens of Evanston and their esteemed City Council to learn about adapting to urban wildlife instead of seeking ways to exterminate it, and to instead spend their pest control money on keeping branch libraries open.

    1. Pest and lightening up
      Hey Judy did you read the article or attend the meeting? Obviously not – it was the ever so dilligent environment board and NOT THE COUNCIL bringing this forth. The council members on the committee stopped it.

      Council bashing is so much fun but sometimes very misplaced.

    2. Trees near the railroad tracks? chop them down, please
      “Ours is the city that allowed ComEd to harvest thousands of trees along the Skokie Swift tracks, annihilating an urban wildlife habitat and forcing raccoons into local attics and deer onto city streets.”

      Trees near the railroad tracks? Chop them down, please. And if deer were living in the woods next to the tracks, they would come out into the streets anyway…and maybe even get onto the railroad tracks. I really don’t want branches interfering with the safety of the trains.

      This reminds me of post I saw on Hyde Park Progress website. (While Evanston Now is great at giving us news about Evanston, HPP exposes the evil villainous acts of the Hyde Park NIMBYs ).

      The article was about NIMBYs complaining about trees being removed from near the Metra tracks:

      Metra’s Joseph E. Riley told the Herald that the trees, which were on Metra property, posed a potential hazard to trains and the thousands of commuters who ride them. Trees too close to the tracks can foul the contact arms and overhead wires that provide power for the trains, obstruct the engineers’ view of track and signals, break windows, and get caught in the trains’ running gear. Root systems can distort the track alignment. Autumn leaves under the wheels can cause trains to literally slide past station platforms.

      Heavy weeds and brush also pose hazards; good railroads–and I count Metra among them–spend great amounts of money to control vegetation. (The alert commuter will note signs along the tracks instructing maintenance crews not to use weed spray too close to homes, uh, back yards.)

      Were these trees obstructing the view? What about overhead wires (which the Swift had until 2004)?

      Unless these trees were under the elevated portion of the Swift…low enough not to cause any trouble…it sounds like chopping them down was the right thing to do. Even then, if they were interfering with ComEd lines, then chopping them down was a good idea too. While I rarely take the Swift ( I prefer to ride in luxury on the UP North Line ), CTA riders deserve to have safe tracks.

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