Rare local wildlife and buyback recycling centers
by David Goldstein, VCPWA, IWMD

Avoiding hazardous substances helps people and wildlife

Last week, as part of Earth Day celebrations, Oak Park Unified School District’s Environmental Committee hosted the screening of a documentary showing two ways to help local wildlife.

The documentary, The Cat That Changed America, includes material powerfully presented by Poison Free Malibu, sure to convince viewers not to use anticoagulant poisons for rodent control. Anticoagulants kill mice and rats through internal bleeding, but poisoned pests take a long time to die, and in the meantime, they often become food for wildlife ranging from mountain lions to birds of prey, spreading the poison up the food chain.

The Cat That Changed America is P-22, the mountain lion famous for crossing both the 405 and 101 freeways to end up living in Griffith Park. The documentary also covers the campaign to build a wildlife crossing to enable access across the 101 freeway and expand the range of animals in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The likely effectiveness of such a crossing has been debated, but preserving wildlife by avoiding anticoagulant poisons is within our control. Avoid infestations in the first place by sealing off potential home entry points with wire mesh. Trim trees overhanging your roof and avoid dense growth capable of sheltering rats. Keep pet food secured, and clean up pet dropping promptly. To kill pests, set mechanical traps instead of using poison; set traps in pairs along a wall with the trip pads pointing in opposite directions.

“Charismatic mega-fauna” is a term environmental educators use to praise the spokes-animals for their causes. The charismatic and majestic mountain lion shown in this documentary is sure to hold many viewers’ attention. www.thecatthatchangedamerica.com

Sharing the beach with rare birds

Another issue important for preservation of local wildlife relates to two rare species of birds nesting on Ventura County beaches at this time of year. The western snowy plovers and the California least tern are rare enough to be categorized as “threatened” species, and their survival depends on our cooperation.

Snowy plovers and least terns nest on the beach. Beyond the camouflage of blending into the sand and gravel of the beach, they and their eggs have little protection. At Hollywood Beach, temporary fences protect some of the nests. Volunteers also staff the area and have used protective cage “exclosures” to keep predators (such as other birds and people) away.

To help the birds, people need to cooperate by keeping all-terrain vehicles and bicycles out of breeding areas. Only authorized vehicles are allowed on the beach, and only trained, permitted monitors are allowed to enter fenced areas. Even staying outside the fence and observing can be a problem if you move or make noise. When birds are disturbed, they sometimes abandon nests.

Use binoculars and keep your distance.

On the net: www.venturaaudubon.org

Where’s my recycling center?

Local recycling coordinators often field complaints about recycling buyback centers’ hours or payments. Since the redemption system is administered by the state, those concerns are generally referred to the California Department of Resources Recovery and Recycling (CalRecycle) at 1-800-RECYCLE.

The most frequent question about rules is whether centers can pay by the pound rather than by the bottle or can. The answer is “the rule of 50.” Upon customer request, recycling center operators must pay by count rather than by weight for up to 50 containers of each material type. Over that amount, centers can choose to pay by weight or count, regardless of customer preference.

Concerns about messes or odors are best handled by your city’s code compliance division. Issues of scavenging and vagrancy are best reported to the police.

Regulation enforcement and economic pressures have forced some centers to close, and the lack of convenient recycling centers is drawing even more complaints.

When recycling centers close, leaving none located within a half-mile of a supermarket, state law requires retailers to choose between redeeming containers or paying a $100-per-day “opt-out” fee to the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Fund. Statewide, 143 stores choose to pay this fee rather than offer recycling, 2,646 redeem in-store, and 223 are in a “grace period” for deciding. Last year, CalRecycle sent letters to 794 additional stores reminding them of this choice and will assess the fee on non-responsive stores, according to Mark Oldfield, communications director with CalRecycle.