Mice invade, run rampant in Adirondack homes

EAGLE BAY — If they weren’t so cute – or if the rampage was being carried out by their despised biological cousins the rats – it might be the stuff of B-movie horror films.

Mice are running wild in some Adirondack communities, frustrating homeowners and keeping pest control firms hustling.

While the infestations appear to be localized, the numbers sound downright frightening with some homeowners trapping hundreds of the tiny rodents over the summer.

When it gets that bad they call people like Avery Menz, an exterminator whose Blue Ribbon Pest Control has offices in Rochester and in Herkimer County near Old Forge.

“I’ve have people catch over 200 mice. Two or three per night,” said Menz whose service area runs from Old Forge northeast toward Long Lake.

“We’re doing everything possible,” he said of the effort to keep the rodent population under control. The effort to eradicate includes the use of tamper-proof bait stations and glue traps – which require extra care since crows have learned that the devices invariably mean mice will be attached to them.

Other pest controllers in the region say they are seeing an increase with the approach of fall, a time when mice typically head indoors. The numbers are greater this year.

“The calls are coming earlier,” said an employee at Nature’s Ways Pest Control in Glens Falls.

Menz said people are calling him when traditional methods, including “Adirondack mouse traps” consisting of a water-filled bucket, a ramp and peanut butter to lure the mice, can’t keep up with the influx.

The burst doesn’t surprise wildlife experts and scientists, who say it could be due to a bumper crop of acorns and beechnuts as well as a mild 2019-20 winter.

“The rodent numbers are really up this year,” said Paul Curtis, a wildlife specialist with Cornell University.

While the mouse boom in parts of the Adirondacks seem localized – Menz said he’s seen no such increase in Rochester – these cycles have occurred before.

A good crop of beechnuts in 2011 appeared to spike the rodent population the next summer, according to the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry which operates a research station in the Adirondacks. Their findings were publicized in the Adirondack Almanack’s on-line newsletter.

Overall, though there’s not much baseline data on mouse numbers in the region, said Charles Canham, a forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in the Hudson Valley community of Millbrook.

“Mouse populations inherently go boom and bust for lots of reasons having to do with weather and food,” he said.

Getting rid of mice can be frustrating, especially for those pest controllers who don’t like to use poison.

“Mice are one of the most difficult animals I have ever worked with,” said Neil Tregger, co-owner of Hudson Valley Wildlife Solutions in Troy.

They are “acrobatic” in their ability to climb things and can get enough water from the moisture in food and condensation, meaning they don’t need separate water sources.

Once they’ve settled into a house, they tend not to leave, unlike, say squirrels that may leave a structure during the day and return at night.

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