Residents in Oronogo say increased animal population is causing damage to homes

Residents in Oronogo say increased animal population is causing damage to homes
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Residents near the Oronogo Circle mining pit, say clean up efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency are displacing animals out of their natural habitats and into their homes to do damage.

“It’s bad,” said Martha Gratton, resident. “It really is and it’s scary.”

Gratton and her daughter, Carolyn Murray, live just outside the Oronogo Circle, where clean up efforts are currently underway.

They believe that is causing snakes, foxes, raccoons and a variety of rodents to invade their neighborhood.

“It makes sense that those animals would be living in that habitat but now their habitat has been destroyed,” Murray said.

“In just the last six to seven months, it’s gotten really bad,” Gratton said.

They have already spent a couple thousand dollars on repairs beneath the foundation.

“I have had to have all my plumbing that was newly plumbed, re-plumbed again because of groundhogs,” Murray said. “It’s not just one groundhog. There are dens of them.”

Wildlife officials say it is difficult to determine whether the increased animal population is a direct result of cleanup efforts.

“There may be some animals around the edges that we’ve disturbed and pushed out, because we have to do the clearing in the area to get the trees out of the way, but they will disperse over time,” said Mark Doolan, remedial project manager for EPA.

Doolan says the cleanup will have a positive impact in the long run.

“Our number one goal is to protect human health and the environment, but we’re also very interested in turning old, abandoned land into productive use,” Doolan said.

In the meantime, Martha and Carolyn have hired professional trapper Terry Barlow, who says eliminating food sources is key.

“A lot of it is due to that the habitat is no longer there for them to hunt, forage, look for food, even their shelter is gone,” Barlow said.

Carolyn and Martha just hope the animals looking for a new home, won’t end up moving them out of theirs.

EPA cleanup work in the Oronogo area began nearly two years ago, and officials say the stretch from Oronogo into Duenweg, MO will be complete within the next two years.