Former councilman Kenny Hardin once more fielding complaints of rodents within the West Finish – Salisbury Put up

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By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY – Five years after trying to mitigate a rodent problem near the West End, former councilor Kenny Hardin says he’s taking action again after receiving complaints from townspeople.

While on Salisbury City Council in 2016, Hardin reached out to the county government for help with rodents that local residents said they eat on property and gardens. At the time, he said neighbors had complained to Salisbury Neighborhood Action Group meetings for more than two years before taking any action on the matter. There were reports of rats, snakes, marmots and raccoons.

Five years later, Hardin says he’s taking action through his nonprofit, The High Road, Inc. During the first week of August, he received complaints about rodents, especially marmots, from residents near the Jersey City borough, the Salisbury Rowan Parish Action Agency on West Bank Street, Livingstone Headstart and East Fisher Street.

Clai Martin, animal welfare manager at Rowan County said the department had received calls from local residents about the rodent problem in the West End and got involved because of the proximity of a childcare center. Hardin told the Post he got in touch with Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce this week, and county animal control officers met him the next morning to set traps near the ledge on West Bank Street. Animal Welfare Officer Logan Horne is the officer charged with answering all animal-related calls in the city limits, and he came to Martin earlier this month to trap Hardin.

Traps have been set along the fence line of the city’s own overflow basin near Bank and Vanderford Streets and near Salisbury-Rowan Community Action Agency, in addition to some backyards of houses near Bank and Institute streets.

Hardin said the complaints also included frustration from local residents who believe the city is not responding to a problem that has been going on for several years.

“Nobody should have to live in fear,” said Hardin. “If you can build a park for $ 13 million, you can go two miles west and help people improve the quality of their lives. People are so apathetic about the city’s inactivity. You pretty much gave up. “

Pamela Jones, who lives on the 600 block on Milford Hills Road, said she frequently sees raccoons getting on and off a house near her home that has been deserted for more than a decade.

“I’d be afraid to go in there,” she said.

Jones said her mother, who lives on the 1000 block on West Horah Street, is used to seeing a groundhog weighing more than 30 pounds near her home. Jones said she witnessed the rodent journey from the historic Monroe Street School down Lloyd Street and into her mother’s garden before finding rodents roaming around her yard and trash cans in an abandoned house at 1027 West Horah St.

Jones said restoring or demolishing abandoned homes in this area would go a long way in curbing the influx of rodents, but she said there is usually a slow response time when contacting the city about various issues.

Salisbury Code Services Manager Michael Cotilla said his department is unaware of the ongoing problem with marmots and raccoons in abandoned homes in the West End. However, two of the 18 demolitions the city approved in fiscal 2020-21 were near the Livingstone Headstart location – 420 Partee St. and 411 Grim St.

For the current fiscal year, nine properties in the West End are non-compliant and threatened with demolition, including 1027 West Horah St. next to Jones’ mother. The properties at Locke St. 1024 and Grace St. 713 have already been demolished by the owners.

Hardin said the frustration led to reports of local residents trying to kill the rodents by running their vehicles over them, stabbing them to death, and burning them. For these reasons, he also contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA for short, but has not yet received a response.

“You don’t deserve torture. You don’t deserve to die, ”said Hardin. “But when people get to a point where they are frustrated, they will act.”

Rupert Medford, a North Carolina Wildlife Commission biologist who oversees the Rowan County area, said the commission could issue a looting permit that allows trapping in cases where animals are damaging property. Once caught, the animals cannot be relocated. It must be euthanized or released at the site of capture.

“Lots of people love to see wildlife. Others don’t, ”said Medford. “One situation we sympathize with is when there is property damage, and in North Carolina residents have the right to protect their property, whether it’s a groundhog digging under a house along the foundation a raccoon damaging a garden or an outbuilding. ”

Mayor Karen Alexander and City Manager Lane Bailey told the Post that they had been made aware of the current issue after an email from the Post last week asking for a comment. Alexander told the Post on Wednesday that she sees possums, owls and raccoons when walking in West Square, but she wasn’t afraid because they weren’t aggressive towards her.

Alexander and Bailey recommend residents dealing with the issue contact Rowan County Animal Control or the NC Wildlife Commission at 866-318-2401. While she understands the frustration of residents feeling they are not getting a satisfactory answer, it all boils down to the city’s lack of funds and resources to solve the problem, she said.

In 2009, the city and county signed a formal agreement for the county to take over animal control services.

“Our task then, unfortunately, is to refer our city citizens to the resources that are paid for by appropriation at the state level,” said Alexander. “We have to direct them to where the resources are.

Although Hardin said he was disappointed with the city’s lack of response, that won’t stop him from raising awareness of this issue until it is finally resolved.

“People get tired of hearing that we run out of money on all of these new projects,” said Hardin. “I just want the problem to be resolved.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.