Man Acquitted of Aiding Rats

A man charged with attempting to thwart rat eradication efforts on an island off the coast of California was acquitted in July of the charge against him.

Bob Puddicombe, 52, stood accused of scattering an antidote to rat poison on Anacapa Island. National Park Service officials spread rat poison on the island in an effort to eradicate black rats. The rats are a nonnative species to the island and were threatening native species.

U.S. Magistrate Willard McEwen Jr. acquitted Puddicombe, finding that federal prosecutors had not provided sufficient evidence to convict Puddicombe.

The Associated Press quoted Puddicombe as saying, “I only wish the animals on Anacapa could have gotten the same fair trial I did.”


Calif. magistrate clears rat supporter. Associated Press, July 11, 2003.

Animal Activist Accused of Trying to Sabotage Rat Eradication Efforts

A few weeks ago, Channel Islands National Park announced that it now believes that Anacapa Island is now free of non-native black rats which were a threat to endangered bird species on the island. On June 20 an animal activist went on trial before a federal judge on charges of trying to sabotage the rat eradication program.

Bob Puddicombe, 52, is the founder of the Channel Islands Animal Protection Association which, along with the Fund for Animals, filed an unsuccessful lawsuit against the eradication plan. Puddicombe is accused of attempting to sabotage the eradication plan by giving rats an antidote to the poison used in the eradication.

Prosecutors allege than on October 24, 2001, Puddicombe and another man, Robert Crawford, arrived at the island in an inflatable boat to spread food pellets with vitamin K. Vitamin K is an antidote to many common rat poisons.

Crawford plead guilty to interfering with the activities of a federal agency and illegally feeding the antidote to rats. He was fined $200.

Puddicombe denies the charges and his public defender argued before U.S. District Court Judge Willard McEwan that the government could not prove that Puddicombe actually scattered any food pellets on the island.

If convicted, Puddicombe could face up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.


Attorneys clash in island rat case. Sylvia Moore, Ventura County Star (California), June 21, 2003.

News briefs from around California. Associated Press, June 21, 2003.