Demonstrators outside Whole Foods, Arlington, Feb. 19, 2023.Demonstrators outside Whole Foods in Arlington on Feb. 19.

 UPDATED Feb. 24: As many as 12 volunteers held signs at Whole Foods in Arlington on Sunday, Feb. 19, to publicize their objection to the store's use of rat poison, which endangers wildlife.

Laura Kiesel, an Arlington writer who opposes poisoning rats using second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides, or SGARs, had urged public participation. She led the demonstration and also explained in an email exchange with YourArlington why the four-hour event had taken place.

She wrote that, prior to the protest, when she first approached the store about its use of SGARs, she had understood that pest management was a matter that was decided locally.

She continued in the email that management had said that alternatives to SGARs had been considered but that the store's position was that it could not have rats running around the property.

Demonstrators' display outside Whole Foods, Arlington.

"I explained that the SGARs would draw the rodents to the property and increase their populations over time, especially as they killed off raptor populations that predate on rats and mice. She [the manager whom Kiesel had interacted with] seemed to lose patience," she wrote.

Others followed up and got a mixed response, she wrote, which seemed to indicate that any change would have to be approved on the corporate level. Eventually, local store managers stopped responding to inquiries.

Asked whether management and demonstrators had had any direct discussions on Feb. 19, Kiesel wrote: "Yes, some demonstrators went inside to talk to customer service (and many who didn't demonstrate with signs did as well and reported back). For the most part, [local store management] just took names and numbers [and] said they would relay them and their concerns to corporate. At some point in the afternoon, they told people to call corporate directly."

Asked to characterize responses from the general public to the Feb. 19 event, Kiesel described them as "overwhelmingly positive and supportive. Many people [were] asking questions, wanting to know what they could do. A fair amount of people seemed to know somewhat about the topic but were surprised and upset to learn [that the Arlington] Whole Foods was using these poisons. Some people mistakenly thought the new town bylaws would mean places like WF wouldn't be using them. Many people took the handouts and educational materials we offered."

The maximum number of demonstrators throughout the day was 12, she wrote; at other times, there were eight.

A town website page contains the following statement: "On January 4, 2023, Arlington Town Manager, Sandy Pooler, signed a new policy prohibiting the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGAR). This policy applies to all Town-owned property, including buildings, grounds, parks, open spaces, and the public right of way, and shall be adhered to by all employees of the Town of Arlington, as well as third party vendors and contractors providing services at Town-owned property."

Read more here about saving wildlife >>

YourArlington published Kiesel's opinion column about this issue in December >>

Owl in Arlington. / Laura Kiesel photoOwl in Arlington. /Laura Kiesel photo >>ACMi video on rodenticides >>

Town bans 2nd-generation anticoagulant rodenticide

This news announcement based on email communication with local writer Laura Kiesel was published Sunday, Feb. 19, 2023. It was updated, based on the addition of further explanatory comments, to a news summary Feb. 23, 2023. A quote from a relevant Town of Arlington website page was added Feb. 24, 2023.