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County unveils new tool in vermin fight

February 13, 2012

Peter Newman of the University of California demonstrates the new kiosk at the Ag. Department. Photo by Mike Gervais

Residents who struggle with rodent problems in the spring and summer months in Inyo County now have a new resource that will teach them the best way to handle rats, rabbits, squirrels and other pests.
Peter Newman, a staff research associate with the University of California, was in Inyo County earlier this week setting up a digital learning center at the Agricultural Department to familiarize residents about the safest and most effective methods of dealing with rodent problems.
Newman said that the federal government has begun regulating the use of rodent bate diphacinone, a type of rodent bait used locally.
Residents can still obtain the bait, however, they are now required to take and pass a test to ensure it is used safely.
The new kiosk in the Ag. Department is meant to help educate residents and give them a list of other options for rodent control. The kiosk itself will not offer the federally required test, however, the Ag. Department hopes it will be a resource diphacinone users will utilize, both to prepare themselves for the test, and to research other options before buying the bait.
“Basically, this teaches you how to control pests properly,” Newman said. “You learn by reading and watching brief but accurate videos.”
The kiosk starts off by asking nine questions about the nature of the rodent problem, what kind of pest the resident is dealing with, what region of the state the resident lives in and the time of year.
As each question is answered, the computer weighs the answers against different pros and cons for each control method.
By the end of the nine questions, the computer will recommend the most effective way to eliminate pests for the specific time and place.
Residents also have the option of taking a “learn as you go,” multiple choice quiz to test their knowledge about the vermin they’re dealing with.
“The aim is not to say pass or fail,” Newman said, explaining that if a resident gets an answer wrong on the quiz, the computer will direct them to an informational page that contains the correct answer.
Residents will also have access to a number of informational videos about various rodent pests to buff up on the animal’s habits, habitat and food sources.
Newman has set up kiosks in Fresno, Monterey, Kings and Alameda counties. He said he has been focusing on communities with an agriculture industry.
In the future, all the information available at the kiosk will be available online, but CalState is still in the process of uploading it.

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