‘Poison Alert’ signs go up in Md. city, and it all started with squirrels

Map of Montgomery County

GAITHERBURG, Md. — A homeowner’s effort to clear unwanted visitors from his property backfired, causing poison concerns in the Kentlands neighborhood of Gaithersburg.

“There was a resident of the neighborhood who for whatever reason thought there were too many squirrels in his yard, and decided that the way to address the squirrel issue was to put out rat poison,” said Gaithersburg City Council member Neil Harris, who lives in Kentlands.

The homeowner placed bits of poison around his yard that were not contained in traps, as the package directions advise.

“The problem is when you don’t put it in a trap, the animals tend to pick it up and move it elsewhere,” Harris said.

And that’s exactly what happened. The bright green chunks of poison ended up in some neighbors’ yards, and cleanup efforts have been mounted.

Anyone who finds bits of the poison is asked to contact the Kentlands Board through Karen Norris at knorris@kentlandsusa.com.

“Everything that we’ve found has been localized within a couple of houses of the original house on Leekes Lot [Way],” said Harris.

Signs have been posted in some places that read “Poison Alert … Please be advised that poison may be in this area.”

Harris said there have been reports of dogs in the neighborhood getting sick.

One was treated as if it were poisoned and made a full recovery.

Another dog died, but it’s not clear if the animal ingested poison or simply passed away from old age. The dog was cremated right away.

Until the cleanup is finished, “I’d keep a close eye on my pet for the time being,” Harris said.

The Kentlands Citizens Assembly will hold a meeting 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentlands clubhouse to update the community on the rat poison issue. Representatives from the city of Gaithersburg will be there.

Several squirrels have been found dead, and Harris thinks that’s too bad.

“There are a number of wooded patches here in the neighborhood. Nature has moved in as well as people and we like that, so it’s very unfortunate what the situation is,” he said.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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