Mice infestation becomes schoolwide problem

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Mice have been spotted throughout Emerald Ridge High School more than once this year

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Mice infestation becomes schoolwide problem

Chase Charaba

Chase Charaba

Chase Charaba

A mousetrap in the ERHS Main Office, where a mouse has already been caught this year.

Emerald Ridge’s pet mice are scampering around in the walls all around you, but don’t panic just yet.

Just two months into the school year, ER staff and students have spotted mice roaming the halls and lurking in the corners. Confirmed sightings have occurred in the library, office and the career and counseling center, and plenty of other reported sightings have been mentioned, such as the student store and classrooms on the second floor.

“We have seen mice more than one time,” administrative secretary Christina Grabski said. “I believe that we saw them on Orientation day, when we had parents in here, which is really embarrassing because you never want to have mice when you have brand new parents and you’re trying to welcome them to the school.”

I was sitting at my desk and I could hear it in my filing cabinet; I heard it rustling around, so I took everything out of my filing cabinet and that did kind of gross me out.”

— Patti McMullan, staff

Mice have always been a problem at ER and neighboring Glacier View Junior High due to the nature of the schools’ surroundings. The area that ER and GV are built on used to be forested wetlands and rabbit farms, and despite the growing number of homes built by the Sunrise Master Association each year, the schools are still surrounded by heavily wooded areas. This makes the schools prime targets for mice to search for food.

A mouse was spotted in Career Specialist Patti McMullan’s office in the career and counseling center, leaving behind a mess.

“For some reason, all of a sudden, I would come in three mornings in a row and my entire desk was covered in mouse droppings, and it’s not a rat, its a mouse,” McMullan said. “I know the difference between their [droppings].”

This is because McMullan and her husband own a pest control company. She says that the mouse probably got into her office because she had the window open during one of the days when the heat was on and the career and counseling center was too hot. Mouse droppings were discovered all along the window sill and on the outside ledge.

McMullan was trying to figure out how the mouse was still in her office, when one day while she was sitting in her office she could hear it.

“I was sitting at my desk and I could hear it in my filing cabinet; I heard it rustling around, so I took everything out of my filing cabinet and that did kind of gross me out,” McMullan said. “I threw a ton of stuff away because it was covered in mouse droppings. I had one oatmeal packet, one little oatmeal packet way in the back, and that’s what it was eating off of.”

McMullan’s office was fully disinfected and searched for any other mice over the four day weekend earlier in October after the mouse was caught.

“The custodial staff were amazing. Lucy [Mathena] came in and disinfected everything,” McMullan said. “She moved everything, washed everything down, and I have not had a problem since.”

The library was also a target for the ER mice. Two mice were spotted last week when a class was using the computers.

“All of a sudden on the right side of the library, everybody was kind of standing up and taking notice, and let us know that there were two mice that were running around,” library assistant Sylvia Snow said. “And so, as soon as we got up, myself and the librarian, the two mice ran into a hole that we know of underneath one of the bookcases, and they were gone.”

The mice were spotted in the library one more time after the first sighting, but there haven’t been any more reports of the mice since then.

Maybe if we name them, they will no longer be virulent infestations, but instead lovable pets. Because you’re never afraid of anything you name, you’re only afraid of something that cannot be named.”

— Jay Bates, English teacher

The ER custodial team has been working hard to get rid of the mice infestation, but some staff and students worry that it may not be enough. Many have voiced their concern that outside exterminators need to be called in to deal with the situation. McMullan, who has experience and expertise in dealing with pest control, offered a few suggestions. Outdoor traps with poison have been used at many large facilities such as the South Hill Mall and Costco, and bringing them to ER and GV may reduce the mice population.

“So, if you were to go anywhere, like a restaurant or the mall, you will see contraptions, little metal boxes, outside the perimeter,” McMullan said. “And, I know it sounds really sad, [but] we put stuff in there that they like, that they sense, the sweetness of it and then they take it back to their nest and it just keeps the population of the mice down. It is poison, which, you know, it makes me sad, but you have to control the population.”

Still, staff and students are making the most of the situation. Teachers took to email immediately after the sightings last week, sending out all-staff messages about how to “deal with the mice,” offering fun advice and methods.

Junior English teacher Jay Bates suggested naming the mice and making them pets because naming them would erase student fears. He said that all you would have to do to make the mice not something threatening is to own them as pets. Owning the mice as pets, would make them no longer rodents, but friends.

“Maybe if we name them, they will no longer be virulent infestations, but instead lovable pets,” Bates said. “Because you’re never afraid of anything you name, you’re only afraid of something that cannot be named.”

More than a handful of staff members have suggested bringing cats to school to catch the mice.

“We could just get a lot of cats and just have them roam the school,” McMullan said. “And we could have litter boxes everywhere. Just kidding.”

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