Volume 5
Issue 1

The Achievement of a 12-year-old BCI Member

Colin Kapelovitz, a sixth-grader from Dickinson, North Dakota, has succeeded in getting the State Laboratory of North Dakota (an extension of the Agriculture Department) to remove Rozol from use against bats in the state. Colin has been a member of Bat Conservation International since May 1986.

Rozol, a pesticide containing chlorophacinone, is a slow-acting poison that is absorbed through the skin and acts as an anticoagulant. Experiments with animals demonstrated signs of neurologic and cardiopulmonary injury where death could occur even before diagnostic signs were evident. Pest control companies often blow up to 18 pounds of the chemical into residential attics where it can filter down into household living quarters. Because Rozol settles to the attic floor and remains active for years, it is especially dangerous to humans and is ineffective against bats who roost on the attic ceiling.

Last September Colin wrote to BCI to tell us of his activities in helping people in Dickinson, a town of 18,000, remove an occasional bat from their homes. We thought he might be interested to learn that the state of North Dakota allowed the use of Rozol Tracking Powder for bat control and sent him a back issue of BATS (June 1984) that included an article about Rozol and how BCI succeeded in getting all pesticide use against bats banned in Wisconsin. Colin sent for our information packet on how to introduce similar legislation elsewhere.

He then wrote his senator, Jerry Waldera, to ask for help. About a week later, Senator Waldera phoned Colin and asked if he could visit the Kapelovitz home to discuss the issue. Colin explained the harmful effects of Rozol on people and discussed the benefits of bats to the environment. Senator Waldera, impressed with Colin's knowledge (and most likely with his enterprise), agreed to assist him in his efforts.

In late January, after the State Laboratory refused to voluntarily stop registering Rozol for use in North Dakota, Waldera introduced Senate Bill 2504 to ban the chemical. The bill, if passed, would have prohibited the use of any pesticide containing chlorophacinone against bats. The Senator again came to see Colin at his home, this time to prepare him to testify at the Senate hearing scheduled for the morning of February 5. Colin already had spoken to Dr. Merlin Tuttle who had arranged for Dr. Denny Constantine, a member of BCI's Scientific Advisory Board and the foremost expert on the issue of bats and public health, to testify by telephone at the hearing.

The afternoon before the hearing, Senator Waldera called to tell Colin that, confronted with BCI's documentation, the State Laboratory had decided not to allow further use of Rozol against bats. If the Senator withdrew his bill, they would rescind their approval of the chemical, exactly what Waldera had set out to accomplish from the beginning. Colin was elated, and his parents, Marcus and Susie Kapelovitz, are extremely proud of his achievement.

Colin has been interested in bats since he was four years old and discovered bats roosting above the doorway of his father's shoe store. He first learned about BCI while waiting in his orthodontist's office where he read an article in International Wildlife (January/February 1986) about how to build a bat house. Colin joined BCI, and he and his grandfather built the bat house together. Last summer he answered numerous calls to remove individual bats from people's homes or shops. Using a glass jar, an empty margarine bowl and gloves, Colin preferred to think of it as a rescue and carried the bat safely back to his own yard where it could rest in his bat house before taking flight in the evening. He reports that he rescued from four to 10 bats a day.

When Colin is not taking on the state government or rescuing bats, he enjoys archery and soccer and also has a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do. Colin plans to continue to "educate people about bats and the good they do" and hopes to attend the University of Texas where he would like to obtain a degree in mammalogy with a specialization in bats (he also hints that he would love to work for BCI). He certainly is off to a good start.
Rozol is still in use in 19 other states, despite Environmental Protection Agency warnings that it poses a serious hazard to public health. The states that permit the use of Rozol for bat control are: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The same information packet that Colin used to get Rozol use against bats banned in North Dakota is still available. It includes information about Rozol and the hazards of house bat mismanagement, an outline of procedures and probable obstacles, and supportive documentation and advice based on our experience. The packet is available from BCI; a contribution of $5.00 to cover duplication, postage and handling would be appreciated.