Olander Park System officials have concerns over the Toledo Area Sanitary District’s mosquito-eradication efforts disturbing the natural food chain and habitat at Sylvan Prairie Park.
At a Monday meeting, park officials questioned the sanitary district biologist Paul Bauman about the necessity of its larvicide efforts to control the mosquito population and how it would impact the food chain. Mr. Bauman said the method has been used on the property for the past five years.
The park system has been working to restore the natural habitat and vegetation to the 220-acre park and a creek that meanders through it.
Erika Buri, park system director, has requested sanitary district cease treatment until authorities can verify its effects and strike a compromise with the sanitary district. One possibility is prohibiting pesticide use on some portions of the park property, similar to the arrangement the sanitary district has with Metroparks of the Toledo area.
“I feel passionately about this, as someone responsible for the vibrancy of our parks this is counter to what I would see at Sylvan Prairie,” she told the three-member board of commissioners.
Mr. Bauman said crews only use eradication efforts on temporary still water that dries up in about two weeks. He said it is not used in ponds or creeks in the park.
The sanitary district has multiple programs to control the pesky bugs on residential properties, including nighttime fogging and daytime misting. The spray is “very toxic” to bees, but Mr. Bauman said spraying is done at certain times of day or by request only so not to harm bees.
“After a rain we will check the standing water and if there is mosquito larva in it, we will treat with products, which does not have impact on vertebrates or wildlife, just mosquito larvae,” he said.
“We have spent a lot of money to restore the area for salamanders and wildlife to live. So five years ago those animals and plants would not have been there. We invested money in the creek and plantings,” Commissioner John Zeitler told the sanitary officials.
The product would wipe out black and midge fly larvae as well, a food source for frogs or tadpoles, dragonfly larva, and salamanders found on the park’s wetlands, Ms. Buri said.
“And we are not even discussing the bacteria and algae that would increase without the predator mosquito,” Ms. Buri said
Mr. Bauman said he does not believe the eradication effort would damage the park‘s ecosystem because it can never entirely destroy the mosquito population, only diminish it.
He said the effort was important because of the park’s proximity to schools and neighborhoods. Mosquitoes are a nuisance to residents and contribute to disease cycles in the wild, he said.
He confirmed that the common mosquito species found in the area do not carry the West Nile virus.
Although residents can opt out of treatment, the sanitary district by state mandate can treat waters where mosquito larvae are found without notifying the property owners, Sanitary District Director Richard Cohen said.