Introducing SAW’s “Forgo the Feeder” Campaign!

Rodent stealing food

SAW is asking Arlingtonians to remove their bird feeders this summer and keep them down through at least November 15th to protect our birds in order to reduce the town’s rat activity. Going forward, we’d like folks to take down feeders beginning in mid-April through mid-November. Studies have shown that homes that have bird feeders on the property are significantly more likely to have active rat burrows nearby than ones that do not. Even if you do not put down rat poison to deal with the rats that come to your yard attracted by your feeder, your neighbors often do. SAW regularly fields complaints from concerned Arlington residents who have one neighbor with feeders and another using rat poison to deal with the rodents the feeders attract. That rat poison, in turn, is killing off our birds of prey in Arlington, including our owlshawks, and even our bald eagles, not to mention our foxes, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and even some of our companion animals.

Please read up more on why we should reconsider bird feeders during warmer weather seasons, and tips/tricks for keeps rats away from feeders when the occasion calls for them by visiting SAW’s “Forgo the Feeder” campaign page. You will also find photographs of the diverse range of birds that still frequent feeder-free yards!

House finch couple nesting in tree in SAW founder Laura Kiesel’s backyard. No feeders present.

Harvard Animal Law & Policy Clinic Submits Legal Petition to State to Suspend Use of Anticoagulant Rodenticides on Behalf of SAW & Other Wildlife Advocates

Local fledgling Great Horned Owlet. Photo credit Laura Kiesel

On Monday, May 13th, Harvard’s Animal Law & Policy Clinic submitted a formal legal petition to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) requesting the immediate suspension of anticoagulant rodenticides registration/use in the state. Laura Kiesel is one of the petitioners on behalf of Save Arlington Wildlife, along with Marci Cemenska of Save Lexington Wildlife; Erin Hutchings, Jodi Swenson, and Linda Amato of Cape Ann Wildlife, Inc,; Jane Newhouse of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue, Jim and Patty-Sears Joyce of Friends of Horn Pond.

In a separate request, the coalition is also calling for the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to investigate the impacts of rodenticides on species protected by the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) and ensure that MDAR is exhausting all avenues to avoid harming state- protected species. 

Many thanks to the Harvard Animal Law & Policy Program and the hard work of their students, and the other petitioners who work tirelessly to advocate for, rescue and rehabilitate, wildlife harmed by rodenticides in Massachusetts. Cape Ann Wildlife in particular offered invaluable data that made this petition possible.

Now it’s the state’s move!

Announcing The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund

We’re pleased to announce that Save Arlington Wildlife founder and director Laura Kiesel has recently launched The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund, a fiscally sponsored project of the nonprofit, Mission:Earth.

The Mission and Vision of the Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund (SMWEF) is to educate the public about the presence and importance of wildlife in the Commonwealth, including in our state’s urban and suburban ecosystems. SMWEF seeks to raise awareness about the toxic and often fatal effects rodenticides (rat poisons) have on wildlife and companion animals. SMWEF will achieve this through offering supportive resources to locally established Save Wildlife chapters and initiatives in cities and towns around Massachusetts in order to educate their residents and push them toward tangible and positive changes that will better protect the wildlife in their own backyards. SMWEF’s strives for a poison- and pollution-free future. Under the fiscal sponsorship of Mission: Earth, The Save Massachusetts Wildlife Education Fund qualifies for tax-exempt donations and contributions to achieve this end. To donate, please visit:

The first step of SMWEF will be to draft and implement a comprehensive outreach program that can engage residents across the state of Massachusetts and inspire them to take action on rodenticide use and other challenges that harm wildlife populations in the Bay State. This will include more investments in larger scale commercial campaigns such as billboards, public transit ads, and events.

SAW Official Statement on the Recent Incidents of Two Foxes Injured by Illegal Leg-Hold Traps in Arlington

Photo courtesy of Newhouse Wildlife Rescue

Save Arlington Wildlife (SAW) has been closely following the issue of the illegal leg-hold traps that have injured two red foxes that reside in our town in the past two weeks. SAW has been in communication with relevant parties, including the state division of wildlife, the Arlington Town Manager, Newhouse Wildlife Rescue, the media, and many concerned residents in Arlington and Lexington.

SAW is aware that the first injured fox has seemingly removed the trap. It is strongly suspected he has chewed his paw off in order to do that, as several eyewitnesses have said that they have seen the fox moving about on three legs. SAW is very concerned about the welfare of this fox and his ability to continue to survive in the absence of medical care if the injured leg is infected. SAW also has concerns regarding the safety of our other wildlife, companion animals, and people–particularly children–that are at risk of being injured by other traps that may be present.

SAW is glad to hear that the Arlington Police Department is following state protocols and has been directly consulting with the Environmental Police and our state wildlife agency. SAW is also heartened to know that the APD has launched an investigation to identify the person who is setting these traps, which have been banned in the state of Massachusetts since 1975. SAW hopes Town officials will continue to invest significant time and resources in solving this case and ensuring the safety of our town’s inhabitants, both human and non-human.

In particular, SAW would like the Town of Arlington to prioritize locating the first fox so that his injuries can be assessed by a veterinary professional and the proper treatment prescribed. Additionally, SAW would like a local effort undertaken in finding the discarded trap, which may still pose a legitimate public safety hazard.

Going forward, SAW is requesting that the Town to take the following measures:

– Draft a comprehensive plan and earmark funding and resources for an educational pilot program geared at peacefully co-existing with wildlife in our town.

– Invest in shoring up our Animal Control division and offering more independence and resources to our Animal Control Officer to handle wildlife rescues and intakes in a manner that complies with federal and state laws and the ACO’s training and certifications.

– Respond swiftly with widespread public notification as soon as town officials become aware of illegal trapping and the presence of wildlife injured from trapping within or in close proximity to our municipal borders.

– Release a strong public statement against the use of illegal leg-hold and steel jaw traps.

Save Arlington Wildlife can assist the Town of Arlington in achieving these goals and hopes that these tragic incidents can serve as a powerful catalyst to reaching a better understanding of, and increased respect for, the wildlife we are fortunate to share our community with.**

UPDATE ON THE INJURED FOXES: The first fox remains at large and is injured and potentially missing a leg/paw. The second fox was rescued in a collaborative effort between Arlington Police Department, Arlington Animal Control, Lexington Police Department, Environmental Police, and Newhouse Wildlife Rescue–as well as several Lexington residents. The second fox (photographed above) was transported to Newhouse Wildlife Rescue and his front leg was amputated due to the extent of injuries incurred by the leg-hold trap. He will continue to be assessed to see if his is a viable candidate to be released back into the wild. He has been named Phoenix the fox due to his remarkable resilience. Deepest thanks and gratitude to all who were involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of Phoenix the fox.