Varmints present problem for Ames

Melissa Berg

The abundant wildlife population in Ames has created a problem with garbage services throughout the city.

Raccoons, possums, squirrels and especially crows have been picking through dumpsites and residential garbage, leaving a mess for sanitation workers.

“The crows flock in large numbers and poke holes in the plastic garbage bags and spread the garbage everywhere,” said Mike Chitty, manager of Chitty Garbage Service. “Everyone thinks it is dogs causing the problem, but it’s not. It’s the crows.”

Chitty said the number of animals prowling through the garbage in Ames has steadily increased in the past five years. Even though the problem is centered in residential areas, he said, Campustown also has been hit hard.

Lorna Lavender of Ames Animal Control said the wildlife population has been growing. She said she has noticed an increasing number of calls at Ames Animal Control related to the animals.

“The increase is just a normal process with wildlife,” Lavender said. “They go through a cycle that peaks about every seven to 10 years.”

Freel Sanitation also has noticed problems with wildlife.

“Customers call and complain about the animals,” said Dennis Maas, Freel Sanitation site manager. “We tell them to have a can with a locking lid.”

Chitty said keeping garbage receptacles closed is important.

“If the sororities, fraternities and other areas keep the lids to the dumpsters closed, there isn’t really a problem,” he said.

Since 1990, Freel Sanitation has had an animal-proof container available for customers to rent at a low monthly fee. Maas said there is no way for an animal to open or even chew on the containers.

Iowa State students have had to adapt to the animals as well.

“The crows were really bad last year,” said Casey Brown, junior in mechanical engineering.

Brown said he thinks there should be a law requiring dumpster lids to be closed.

“The university should do something about the problem and keep it under control all the time,” Brown said.

Dennis Erickson, manager of Campus Services, agreed that crows tend to pick through the trash barrels on campus and in the parking lots.

“It isn’t a major concern though because of the concrete trash receptacles and enclosed areas,” Erickson said.