Stephen Vantassel here, wildlife control consultant, giving you another episode of Living the Wildlife.
Wanted to talk today about some relatively new devices on the market when I mean relatively new, I mean, they’re not like new as of yesterday, but they’ve only been in the history of wildlife control.
They’re relatively recent. We don’t have a lot of dramatic changes within the wildlife control field. You guys over in the pest management professional side with your pesticides certainly undergo a lot more changes.
In a shorter period of time than those of us in the wildlife control area. But it’s all relative, of course. I want to talk today a little bit about carbon monoxide devices. Yeah, you’ve heard that right. Carbon monoxide, not dioxide, this is C O carbon with one oxygen, carbon monoxide devices, as you should know.
Carbon monoxide is a highly toxic gas.
It is extraordinarily toxic. So if your hemoglobin. That’s the part of your blood that captures oxygen to bring oxygen to the various parts of your body. If your hemoglobin has a choice between bonding with carbon monoxide, in bonding with oxygen, It’ll choose carbon monoxide.
The chemical affinity between hemoglobin and carbon monoxide is significantly higher. I mean, orders of magnitude higher than the hemoglobin is attract the attraction to oxygen.
And so there’s chemical and I’m sure electrical reasons for why your hemoglobin is more interested in bonding with carbon monoxide than it is with oxygen.
So this is why we have to be careful when you’re running that automobile inside of a garage or when you’re having a gas powered heater inside of a garage because that combustion is burning off. Is burning up your oxygen on one level, but it’s also producing a very toxic gas. When things are not being burned completely, it creates carbon monoxide gas.
So you you have heard me speak about carbon dioxide, which is used at C O two to oxygen’s combining with the carbon carbon dioxide used as a euthanasia euthanizing agent when we want to put down a particular animal. But carbon monoxide is not only used as a euthanizing agent, which it is, although there’s some concerns with it, but it’s also used as a control method.
You may have heard about, you know, grandpa or relative or maybe you try to yourself who get angry at a particular random one, a burrow, they’re like nothing works. And then they hook up a hose to the back. The old Cadillac or the tractor and on the exhaust and then pump turn the engine on and pump that gas into the burrow. And they would tell you how it works. And the family laughs and whatever you.
So this is the idea behind these devices. So there are a lot more sophisticated than your old grandpa’s Cadillac or the family tractor or whatever those devices might be. These are devices with that are much more efficient, much more user friendly than pulling out the old automobile. So we have to remember with modern automobiles, catalytic converters, they burn more efficiently. They’re you know, they’re still putting out toxic gas, to be sure. But it’s not the same as your 1975 Chevy. So don’t use your modern vehicles. All right. So don’t do that. Use one of these devices. But let’s take a few minutes and talk about these particular products. What they do is they take a gasoline powered engine and hook it up to a hose.
These are simple ones like the cheetah.
If you look at the cheetah, it’s a brand name.
It is basically as I look at it, it looks like a glorified leaf blower, except what it’s blowing out is not just wind is blowing out. The carbon monoxide gas. And so you then take that hose, hook it up to the burrow and fumigate that burrow with carbon monoxide gas. You may say, well, it seems kind of barbaric. Well, the reality is, is that the ignite of old gas cartridges that you can purchase off the shelf that are registered pesticides with the EPA, what do you think they’re producing those devices are those products, I should say, those devices, those those pesticides are also producing carbon monoxide gas as a byproduct of that combustion process. So all the ignite, also the carbon monoxide devices do is they save you the trouble of having to be registered as a pesticide because the EPA considers them as devices rather than as pesticide agents. So you can actually in many states and certainly in my state of Montana, you do not have to have a license to take one of these devices or of these carbon monoxide producing devices.
And there’s like I said, the cheetah you have,
you have the Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Controller PERC,
which is sort of like the granddaddy out of California. And I mean, that granddaddy as a as a positive thing, because that particular device actually has scientific research to back that product up.
But all of them basically are are just derivations and modifications of the same idea. Gasoline powered engine hooked up to a hose that injects that carbon monoxide into the barrel. And as I said before, carbon monoxide is highly toxic. So if you want to even compare with carbon dioxide, if you’re trying to kill an animal faster. Carbon monoxide will kill that animal far faster than carbon dioxide. So CO is a fasting, faster killing agent than CO2. All right. So so I have no doubt that these products are effective.
But how safe are they?
Well, like any killing type agent, even though these aren’t regulated by the EPA, there’s risks.
Just like if you’re using your automobile, there’s a risk. Right. So couple of things in mind. Carbon monoxide has about a chemical weight almost identical with regular atmosphere. So the words the air in your house, for instance, has a particular chemical weight.
Carbon monoxide. Is about the same weight as the regular atmosphere, so it’s unlike carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is heavier than normal air, so carbon dioxide has a tendency to fall to the air to the earth. Carbon monoxide is lighter and so it has a tendency to just sort of waft around being carried by whatever air currents you have available. So I say that because you need to be careful, more careful with carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide. Excuse me. You should be careful. Any pesticide you’re using or any killing agent you’re using, you need to be particularly careful with carbon monoxide because there’s no odor.
And because the tendency of that carbon monoxide to bond the hemoglobin. So what happens is if you’re using this product and you’re slowly, let’s say you don’t close the burrow properly so that some of that carbon monoxide gas is leaking out and then the ambient wind that’s going over that area is wafting that carbon monoxide up into your face.
You could be slowly poisoning yourself and it can be rather subtle. I mean, people who’ve had carbon monoxide poisoning inside of their homes, it doesn’t happen fast. It happens gradual. Their you know, they’re breathing this carbon monoxide in the air and they’re like feeling well. And after a while, they’re starting to get maybe a headache. And then it goes from a headache and they think they have the flu. And then all of a sudden they’re. They’re going unconscious or sleepy and then they they can die.
So notice what I said there. One of the first signs that you were poisoning yourself with carbon monoxide is you’re getting a headache.
It can also be something as simple as a little bit of tightness of tightness in your chest, because again, you’re depriving your body of important oxygen in your brain is one of the biggest consumers of oxygen in your body. So if you’re using this product and you’re finding you’re getting a headache, don’t ignore that. You want to be sure that you’re using this device safely. So how would we use it safely? Well, the first step would be.
Which way is the wind blowing? You want to be sure that you’re either upwind or at a perpendicular to the wind.
So if the wind is going north and south, you want to be facing east, west or west east.
That would be perpendicular to the wind.
You want to be sure you’re inserting your some of them use a wand. Some of them will use a hose. You want to be sure that hose is insurgent into the burrow appropriately and then you’d want to pack soil around the opening of that hose or wand.
The reason for that is if you’re in an area where there’s a where there’s a wind.
What happens is the wind, as it’s going across the opening of that hole, if you leave it open, will actually siphon the gas out of the bureau. You may say, how do I know when whether two holes are connected or not?
Well, that’s a great question. And unfortunately, there’s not always an easy answer. For example, if you’re poisoning prairie dogs or you’re poisoning ground squirrels. But like Richardson, ground squirrels or Colombian ground squirrels or a California ground squirrels, there’s no guarantee that you will know whether two holes are connected or not. Now, sometimes you’ll be able to know because of just how things are looking. Me. You know, the California ones, there are holes can go into great clusters and can actually see how they’re connected.
But you’re not always going to know that. So I’m going to tell you the air on the side of caution May said, well, won’t you see smoke? And the answer is no, you won’t, because carbon monoxide doesn’t is colorless and it’s odorless. Now, Burrow R X is one device that actually has a mixture where you mix smoke oil in with product it with the gas that so that you will see. The smoke, and so it actually burns the oil causing a smoke, and so you’ll actually see the smoke emanating from of holes. You will know whether two holes are connected. That’s one of the the better functions of that device is that you can actually save time by knowing the two holes are connected. So then you don’t have to treat it twice. You’re not treating whole 1 and then hole 2 because they’re you know, they’re connected. You’ve already treated that tunnel. The others, unfortunately, don’t work that way. That’s referring to the perk device. And I’m referring to the cheated device in I believe there’s one other product out there as well. So I’m not endorsing these products and I’m not trashing these products.
I’m just simply saying they’re out there. Do your do your research.
But I have no doubt that carbon monoxide is effective on killing animals in burrows. I have no doubt in my mind that that works.
So then once you have the wand surrounded by soil, the gas is pumping into the burrow, you know that no other openings are out there. She not having the gas is simply leaking out at the other side of the hole.
You’re watching. You’re watching it. Now, the question is, how long do you allow the carbon monoxide gas to be pumped into that burrow?
It’s still unclear. I’m going to just tell you a punt here and just tell you, look, you need to come be in consultation with your manufacturer because some of this information is growing over time as a general rule of thumb. You’re going to be looking at this as a minimum of 30 to a minute per bureau. I’ve spoken to people. They will be able to fight for prairie dog Burrows, which will be the largest burl that you’re going to be dealing with out there. They’re looking at anywhere from two to four minutes of injection time. So clearly, if you’re dealing with hundreds of acres.
Fumigation is not necessarily your first choice because it’s so time intensive. Now, there are dangers with it.
There is no secondary poisoning. So if a dog is eating that prairie dog or eagles eating that prairie dog that’s been poisoned with carbon monoxide. There is no secondary hazard there. So we’re good to go. However, whatever animals inside that burrow is going to take one for the team, because while fumigation has no secondary poisoning, fumigation will kill its high acute poison. It’ll kill whatever’s in. There were a bait. You know, if you have a snake in a burrow, a bait won’t kill the snake. It’ll kill the prairie dog. And then the prairie dog may be may hurt something else depending what type of bait you were. But the snake will be fine. But with few with fumigation, whatever’s in that burrow that snakes in the burrow, the prairie dog that snakes can die. So these are some of the elements you have to keep. Keep in mind.
Now, what about the regulation side? Well, as I said, the EPA does not require these particularly devices to be registered as pesticides. They. There may be a device registration with them. But many states certainly in my state of Montana. You do not need to have a pesticide license to use these devices to use carbon monoxide devices. That being said, there is at least one state that I know of and maybe more as this begins to become more popular as a control method. Colorado is one state that has mandated that carbon monoxide devices be used in a certain way. What they’ve done is they’re concerned about poisoning people inside of structures. So they have created a table that says if you’re controlling, let’s say, a prairie dog burrow, you have to be I think you cannot be any closer to a structure. I think that one hundred and fifty feet, I think for pocket go for I think it’s one hundred feet. But you you read it on your own. And if you’re interested, you would go to Colorado. Excuse me, code of Colorado regulations, CCR.
It’s eight CCR.
Twelve VO three dash, two, part 15 when they’ve had lots. Let me repeat it again. Eight C C R, Colorado Code Regulations 12 VO 3, Dash 2, part 15.
And that has a guideline on how to use carbon producing devices. And that’s what you would want to follow.
So it has a table there, it says, look, if you’re doing the ground squirrel, you can be this close to a structure. If you’re doing a parker go for you can be this close to a structure. If you’re doing prairie dog, you can only be this close to structure. So it’s primarily a safety means of ensuring that you’re well, at least highly making it very difficult to poison anybody that’s inside of a building cage, cause that to make sure you’re far enough away because as you know, concrete, you miss. Well, there’s a foundation there, concrete that is porous. There is gaps along the sill line. There may be a crack in the foundation. So when you’re pumping in carbon monoxide into that ground, seep through the ground, into the concrete foundation crack, find a crack, and all of the sudden it’s settling inside of a basement. If there’s a baby down there, babies would certainly be more vulnerable to carbon monoxide. And all of a sudden you get a sick kid in your hands. OK. So that is the reason. So even if your state does not mandate a certain exclusion zone around structures, I’m here to tell you, hey, follow Colorado’s guidelines. It can’t hurt. You may say all, but then I lose the ability to control these burrows up close to a structure. You know, there’s other ways to control animals that are closer to a structure like a trap.
You really don’t want the risk of poisoning someone with carbon monoxide because it’s easier to do that than you think.
So notice what we’ve talked about so far, no one we’ve talked about that these devices are available. We’ve talked about how there’s no secondary poisoning with these devices. However, there is an exceedingly high primary poisoning and they will basically kill whatever’s inside that burrow. So if you have not identified your burrow properly or that burrow was abandoned and then reoccupied by something else, you’re going to be killing a non targeting animal with your fumigation. We did mention, if I have mentioned that already, that it is a little time consuming as a device where bait, you’re just simply putting bait down by that burrow. But with fumigation, you were there, you were stuck there for a little while. Now, if natural gas cartridges, of course, you’re not stuck there, you’re simply going to light it inserted deep into that barrel and close the hole and move on. However, the cartridge in of itself can be quite expensive. So but in that as well as the time involved of inserting properly, backfilling, putting the filling the hole without smothering the cartridge, those are could be issues that can really tie tie you up in terms of health, your production. One one notable gas cartridge. I think it’s two dollars and fifty cents a cartridge when you can cover the shipping, include the shipping, that’s not counting any of your time. So again, if you’re dealing with only a couple of acres, you know, maybe 30 or 40 holes or 80 holes, you can kind of swing that a little bit. But when you started to talk about acres after acres after acres. Probably not. But you may have a client who is willing to pay. But as a rule of thumb, you’re looking at two to three times as much time to do fumigation as you would be doing a toxic treatment.
So just keep that in the back of your mind.
The advantage, of course, no secondary poisoning. So as soon as that fumigation is done, you not have having to worry about someone’s dog being poisoned because they ain’t a ground squirrel that was on top of the ground. And that can be very important.
So but I still think in terms of economic benefit, these devices are going to be primarily used under small acreage situations or with the end or with a client who is highly concerned about the use about secondary poisoning. So keep those keep those elements in mind. All right. Let’s talk about some research. The only product that I’m aware of that has peer reviewed level research done on it, and that is the pressurized exhaust rodent control out of California. So I respect any company that has taken the time to put their product under rigorous scientific scrutiny because it’s risky for the company. It’s expensive for the company as a rule. So. You have to respect that. What they found was with the PERC system. Now the perk system’s a little different than the other two systems I mentioned because it you can buy versions of the PERC system to have multiple ones. That means you’re not just simply using a gasoline engine with one wand, with one hose, with the PERC system, you can get three or four hose so you can be filling multiple burrows at the same time, which of course increases your efficiency enormously. Now, the perk system was used on California ground squirrels, I believe, or it was the buildings. I can’t remember which one offhand, but I believe it was the California one. And what they found was that it had an 80 percent efficacy or higher. Think about it in 84, 86. Efficacy on ground squirrels. And it was the most efficient method of control in that area because remember, ground squirrel birds are going to be significantly smaller than those of prairie dogs. And so that is one of the advantages of smaller burrows. So they were able to treat a whole bunch of holes very rapidly, killed these ground squirrels and move and move on. There was research done on pocket gophers.
The pocket go for research did not prove demonstrate that it could control pocket gophers to a level of above the 70 percent, which is an EPA kind of rule of thumb that says a product that’s used to control vertebrates needs to achieve a 70 percent level of control or higher. I had a chance to speak with the manufacturer. He, of course, was disappointed that the that his product didn’t reach that 70 percent plateau, but he didn’t miss it by much.
He was in the 60s. He thinks that a couple of tweaks on application method will be the difference. And that’s something you want to keep in mind because remember, these products are relatively new in so you have the device, but you also have to factor in how you as an applicator are using these devices. Are you using them in the best way possible in sometimes no one knows what that method is because it takes time to figure out what those methods are going to be to improve. I’ll give you no station. We were doing some work with another device called a propane oxygen exploiter on prairie dogs and technology improvements on the device and some things that we did. We were able to improve efficacy rate on the device as well at while at the same time reducing the time involved with the device. So we were able to win on both on both levels.
So I expect as these products begin to be used more and more and more information is getting out into the field, we can improve the methods by which we’re using these devices for good effect.
So do I think Carrigan of carbon monoxide devices are going to be, you know, become huge in the market?
Probably not unless you have a lot of ground squirrel or burrowing animal type situations in the area. It’s probably not going to be high in your list. But as I remind some of my eastern friends, you know, not everyone lives in New York City. All right. So some of us are actually living in areas that have open spaces. And these this can be a tool in your tool box to control animals and burrowing animals away from structured areas and do so in a way without fear of a secondary poisoning event. Well, let me add a couple more things. How do we improve using few against. Well, one of the first things you want to do is you ideally, if you can always want to use fume against at when the ground is wet. Why is that?
Because when you have moisture, high levels of moisture in the soil, you will reduce the amount of gas that finds its way into the interstitial space between the particles of that material.
And this is something you have to keep in mind when you’re using fumigation.
That is the gas seeps into the soil. So if your moist soil has fewer pockets of air in it because the water fills in those gaps. And so when those gaps are filled in, more of that toxic material.
It’s actually held in the burrow being available to kill the ground squirrel or prairie dog that’s inside that barrel. So you want to be sure that if possible, you want to do this after a good soaking rain or have the client water the area so that the soil will hold. We’ll keep that gas in the burrow where it will be effective to kill your target animal. And then lastly, you want to make sure that your tight your soil is tight around your wand or your injection device tips so that the gas carbon monoxide is not spilling back out toward you. It’s the safety thing, but also it does no good if that gas is now in the burrow available to kill that particular animal inside because wind will suck that gas right out of the barrel.
Just think of it as if you put some smoke inside of a bottle and then blow across the top of that bottle to make it whistle. You will see the smoke being pulled out of the bottle because of the wind that you’ve created across the tops. Same siphoning type principle. So love to hear from you if you’ve ever used these products. I’ve heard of one individual who’s now using. Carbon monoxide gas to control voles. That’s with a V, not moles for the V voles.
I am shocked and amazed by this because vole tunnels are very, very porous and he’s he’s saying he’s having success.
I’m still a little skeptical, but I’m happy to be proven wrong as I tell people.
He he is liking it, but because vole port vole tunnels tend to be very, very porous, very close to the surface of the ground, very hard to get a tight seal.
But he says he’s finding success with it. So he’s doing it commercially. So clearly he’s not getting the callbacks. So I’m intrigued. I’d love to get some feedback from you. Terms of if you’ve used the device, which your thoughts are. Again, my email address is wildlifecontrolconsultant@Gmail.com. That’s wildlife control consultant at Gmail dot com.
Hey. On another note, I’d love to hear your ideas for future topics. Otherwise, I’m just going to keep talking about what interests me. Maybe that’s what you want, but I would love to get some feedback. Tell me what I’m doing right. What I’m doing wrong. Participate. Contribute a lot to learn. Even on my end of the. Even where I might never want to be so arrogant that you’re not willing to learn something new. So love to hear from you. That’s it for me. And I’m Stephen Vantassel, wildlife control consultant.