RANCHESTER — In light of plague found in a Big Horn cat, Ranchester homeowner Kari Braunberger approached council for the second year in a row to address pest-infested green space behind Aspen Court, Heather Lane and Brook Street subdivisions.
Braunberger said she has been trying for the last two years to have the town of Ranchester do something about the invasive presence of voles, a rodent present in the greenery behind the three areas. In paperwork filled out by Braunberger regarding the vole issue, she stated that four known neighbors and several others who have lived in their homes less than one year don’t have funds to pay for rodent control.
“Our issue is getting back there and making an effective area for that,” Ranchester Mayor Peter Clark said. “My solution would be to put a 10-foot concrete path behind those houses, a walking path, with benches and stuff because it’s public access. That’s a long-term solution for us, it would be very expensive for us and might be out a couple years as far as budgeting.”
Councilor Jeffrey Barron echoed Clark’s budget concern.
“I would ask your patience with this council,” Barron said. “I personally am willing to pursue this and see what we can do. Obviously the mayor has looked at some other things in the interim, so if you’re willing to accept a little bit of patience as we move forward with this.”
Braunberger noted this was the second time bringing the issue before council this year, and she has been in the process of trying to alleviate the pest problem in that area for two years.
“I feel like I’ve been put off for two years and this is an issue,” Braunberger said. “We all have voles, which I appreciate, but according to Pfitzer Pest Control, this is the worst area he services in the entire county. He says it’s by the thousands in (the green space).”
Ranchester ordinance states that it is “unlawful for any person to maintain or permit the existence of any nuisance upon any property located within the corporate limits of this town.”
Subdivision ordinances do not say anything about the city caring for green space within a subdivision plat, but Councilor Samantha Nixon reminded council of the city’s agreement with the landowners at the onset of the subdivision.
“Instead of putting in a park for that subdivision, we allowed that green space to stay,” Nixon said. “If we’re trading green for green, we should still, in my opinion, maintain it.”
Pfitzer suggested 20 perimeter bait stations surrounding the area throughout the year for a cost of $1,680 annually. The bait stations, Braunberger said, are not secondary kills, meaning pets and other animals outside of the pests will not be harmed if they should come in contact with the poison or a pest that has consumed the poison.
The Wyoming Department of Health reported an average of seven human cases of plague each year, but only six human cases of plague have been documented in Wyoming since 1978. Ways humans can contract the plague is making contact with fleas from pets or the outdoors, exposure to rodents and frequenting areas with unexplained rodent die-offs.
Barron asked Braunberger to bring statistics back from the pest control businesses who provided estimates, and the council will review the data and move forward with a decision.