Criminal Defense Attorney in Sullivan's Island, SC

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Fighting For You

When you are charged with a crime or are involved in an accident, it can seem like the world is crashing down around you. Between the threat of incarceration and the chance of financial loss, these foreboding situations often feel overwhelming. Friends and family cut ties, your employer threatens termination, and life seems hopeless. It is imperative to have a fighter on your side during these trying times: one that will stick with you through thick and thin, without any judgments.

Welcome to the Law Office of Richard Waring: where defending your rights and freedoms is paramount in securing your future.

Richard implements a powerfully simple yet effective model for all his clients’ cases:

  • The Relentless Pursuit of a Positive Outcome
  • The Use of Creative Problem-Solving Tactics
  • Excellent Communication

When you are ready to fight back against the allegations against you, it is time to call the Law Office of Richard Waring – a criminal defense attorney on Sullivan's Island, SC, with the knowledge, experience, and drive to defend you during your most difficult time.

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Richard Waring

From Prosecution to Protecting Your Rights in Sullivan's Island

Richard Waring began his commitment to community service years ago. As a young man, he would spend his summers volunteering his time to help needy communities.

As an adult, his desire to help others manifested itself while I served as a prosecutor for "close to 10 years."?. During this time, he would take part in some of the most difficult trials in the Lowcountry’s history. He prosecuted thousands of individuals for crimes such as assault and battery, armed robbery, drug crimes, DUI, financial crimes, and even murder.
His time as a prosecutor was priceless, giving him valuable insight and knowledge into the inner workings of Sullivan's Island’s legal system. Today, Richard uses that experience to vigorously defend good, hardworking men and women whose freedoms are only one judgment away from disappearing.
Whether you made a mistake and need a second chance or have been wrongfully accused of a crime, you need a professional who has put in time on both sides. At the Law Office of Richard Waring, you can rest easy knowing this former prosecutor will fight tooth and nail for your freedom.

Criminal Defense

When you are charged with a crime, it can become a horrible experience. The range of emotions one goes through can be taxing: embarrassment, humiliation, regret, sadness, despair. The domino effect that often happens when charged with a crime can be awful, as well: loss of job, abandonment by your family or significant other, dirty looks from those in your community.

Fortunately, a criminal defense attorney in Sullivan's Island, SC, can help restore your reputation and repair your life. In times of legal crises, your friends and family may cut ties, but Richard Waring will be on your side from the time you call his office to the time your case is resolved.

Having prosecuted thousands of cases in South Carolina, Richard has a set of skills and experiences; assets that have guided him to win criminal cases against the government. Richard truly knows the criminal justice system’s ins and outs and is dedicated to fighting for his clients to achieve the best possible outcome on their criminal cases.

While some cases result in a positive outcome quickly, others must go to trial. Much like a combat athlete trains for months, hones his or her skills, and goes to war with an opponent, Richard Waring has prepared for and battled it out in many high-profile trials.

When you trust the Law Office of Richard Waring, you can rest assured that you are in capable hands. Each of our criminal defense clients receives the following when entrusting Richard Waring as their criminal defense lawyer in Sullivan's Island:

  • Vigorous representation
  • Quick response to emails and phone calls
  • Compassionate, understanding treatment
  • You will never be treated as unimportant or second-rate
  • Thorough investigation for your case
  • All of your constitutional rights, including the right to a fair trial, upheld
  • Notifications of important updates

The following are common cases that Richard Waring can handle for you:

  • Misdemeanor DUI/DWI
  • Felony DUI/DWI
  • Violent Crimes including: Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature, Assault and Battery, Attempted Murder, and Murder
  • Strong Armed Robbery
  • Armed Robbery
  • Drug Crimes
  • Manufacturing of Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Crack, or Cocaine
  • Distribution of Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Crack, or Cocaine
  • Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Heroin, Crack, or Cocaine
  • Gun crimes including: pointing or present a firearm, possession of a pistol with obliterated serial numbers, possession of a stolen pistol
  • Restoration of Your Gun Rights
  • Trespassing
  • Larceny and Burglary
  • Property Crimes
  • Domestic Violence
  • Shoplifting
  • Financial Crimes including: Forgery, financial transaction card theft, fake IDs, breach of trust, obtaining goods by false pretenses
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol
  • Traffic Crimes including: driving without a license, speeding, reckless or careless driving
Criminal Defense
Importance Of Your Criminal Defense Attorney In Sullivan's Island, SC

Importance Of Your Criminal Defense Attorney In Sullivan's Island, SC

There are several key players in the criminal justice system, each with its own roles. The prosecutor is tasked with enforcing laws and convicting offenders. The judge serves as an unbiased decision-maker. The criminal defense attorney’s role is to protect the rights of the individual who is charged with a crime – a vitally important role in the criminal justice world.

Having a proactive, experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side almost always improves your chance of a positive outcome. While their primary role is to defend your rights and protect you from excessive sentences, they have many other duties.

When you entrust Richard Waring as your defense advocate, he will fight to protect your rights throughout the case by:

  • Arguing in court to reduce how much you must pay to post bail
  • Being present during police interrogations and interviews
  • Discovering and applying potent legal defenses
  • Advising you on your decision to plead guilty, not guilty, or to go to trial (if applicable)
  • Explaining the implications of pleading guilty
  • Gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses relating to the allegations against you
  • Meticulously examining the circumstance surrounding your search and arrest (if applicable) to uncover Fourth Amendment violations
  • Meticulously examining any drug or DUI-related chemical tests to ensure accuracy and uncover errors
  • Representing you during scheduled hearings
  • Representing you during a jury trial
  • Working with the prosecutor to discuss plea deals or the possibility of a reduced sentence
  • If convicted, representing you during the sentencing phase and arguing on your behalf for a fair sentence

Knowing Your Rights

As a defendant, you have important rights. Some of the rights that Richard Waring will fight to protect on your behalf are:

  • The right to a speedy trial
  • The right to remain silent
  • The right against unreasonable seizures and searches
  • The right against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • The right against cruel and unusual punishment
  • In most cases, the right to a jury trial
  • The right of innocence until proven guilty
  • The right to legal representation

While United States law does not mandate that a defense attorney be assigned to a defendant, the prosecutor must uphold your right to legal representation. If you cannot afford an attorney in Sullivan's Island, the government must supply you with a public defender.

While United States law does not mandate that a defense attorney be assigned to a defendant, the prosecutor must uphold your right to legal representation. If you cannot afford an attorney in Sullivan's Island, the government must supply you with a public defender.

Knowing Your Rights
Knowing Your Rights

Criminal Case Timeline In Sullivan's Island, SC

If you or a member of your family is facing criminal charges in Sullivan's Island, there is no doubt that you are anxious about the road ahead. You are not alone – most of our criminal defense clients worry about the uncertainties surrounding the legal process and what is next in their case.

At the Law Office of Richard Waring, we empathize with this stress, and as such, make every effort to address anxiety-inducing questions like:

  • How long will it take for my case to be resolved?
  • What type of sentence is common for the crime in which I am being accused?
  • Will the prosecutor offer me a favorable plea deal?

We cannot answer these questions in detail until we have time to review your case and speak with you one-on-one. Until that time, this high-level view of Sullivan's Island’s criminal case timeline can offer some insight into what lies ahead.

Arrest And Investigation

Arrest and Investigation

This is the first step in the criminal case timeline. During this time, police officer(s) will investigate the potential crime at hand and arrest whomever the officer(s) believes to be responsible. At this point, the person in question is considered a Defendant.

Initial Bond Setting

Initial Bond Setting

Shortly after the arrest (typically within the same day), defendants are granted an initial bond hearing. This short proceeding determines whether a defendant will be released from jail while charges are pending. It is wise to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Sullivan's Island, SC, before this hearing so that they may argue on your behalf.

Preliminary Hearing

Preliminary Hearing

The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence (or probable cause) for the case to carry on. Defendants must request this hearing within 20 days of their initial bond setting. Hearings typically commence within three to six weeks. It is especially important that defendants retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at this stage.

Initial Appearance

Initial Appearance

The main purpose of this court date is to determine if the defendant has hired an attorney or will need a public defender appointed to them. If you have an attorney before this hearing, defendants are not required to be present. The initial appearance typically happens 45 days after the arrest.

Plea Offers

Plea Offers

n some cases, the State may offer a plea offer to the defendant. If the defendant accepts this deal, a hearing will be scheduled to finalize the defendant’s acceptance. If the defendant pleads guilty, they are typically sentenced on the spot. If the defendant rejects the plea, he or she may have to go before the judge to ensure they understand the consequences of rejecting a plea offer.

Discovery

Discovery

Under Rule 5 of the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant will receive all evidence that will be used against them. As your criminal defense attorneys in Sullivan's Island, we will submit a written request to the court to obtain this information. It may take the State weeks or months to turn over their evidence, especially if that evidence is new.

Indictment

Indictment

The first barrier for the State to prosecute takes place during the preliminary hearing. The second occurs during the indictment phase. In general terms, an indictment is a document that details the criminal charges which the defendant must face. Each crime listed on the indictment is called a “count.” During this phase, the State will gather a “grand jury” comprised of public citizens. This jury is presented with evidence to help them approve or disapprove of the charges contained in the indictment. If the indictment is approved, the defendant’s case will proceed to trial. If it is rejected, charges are usually dropped.

Trial

During the trial, both the defense and prosecution will present evidence to a jury, who will hand down a final verdict. The prosecutor’s job during the trial is to convince the jury, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty. The defendant is under no obligation to prove anything. As an experienced criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor, Richard Waring will work hard to convince the jury of his client’s innocence while pointing out holes in the prosecution’s case.

Typically, a trial in Sullivan's Island includes the following phases:

  • Jury Selection
  • Pre-Trial Motions
  • Opening Statements
  • The State’s Case
  • Directed Verdict
  • The Defense’s Case
  • The State’s Rebuttal
  • Closing Arguments
  • Jury Instructions and Deliberation
  • Verdict and Sentencing

Latest News in Sullivan's Island

DHEC says Sullivan’s Island forest cutting will need a permit

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — A plan to thin parts of the maritime forest here will face stricter scrutiny from state regulators after the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said the cutting is extensive enough that it requires a permit.The thinning is part of a lawsuit settlement reached in October 2020 between the town and some homeowners who live on the edge of the thicket. The plaintiffs wanted more management of the wild land, which has slowly accreted along most of Sullivan’s Island’s beach for dec...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — A plan to thin parts of the maritime forest here will face stricter scrutiny from state regulators after the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said the cutting is extensive enough that it requires a permit.

The thinning is part of a lawsuit settlement reached in October 2020 between the town and some homeowners who live on the edge of the thicket. The plaintiffs wanted more management of the wild land, which has slowly accreted along most of Sullivan’s Island’s beach for decades. A staunch group of activists on the island, however, want the area mostly left alone.

So the town put together a plan based on the settlement for state and federal regulators to review. The Army Corps of Engineers already determined the work wouldn’t require one of its wetland disturbance permits. But DHEC said in a Dec. 20 letter that in a few parts of the forest, the cutting is significant enough that a state environmental permit is required.

Some parts of the land would be left mostly untouched. But in other areas, the plan calls for removal of several smaller trees.

Specifically, DHEC wrote that in parts of the 100-foot “transition zone” area that is closest to adjacent homes, 96 percent of the trees would be removed, based on a 2014 survey of the plants there.

In a portion of the accreted land area that stretches from the edge of island’s elementary school to Station 28½, 80 percent of the trees would be removed, DHEC wrote.

“This level of tree removal is significant; therefore, a Major Critical Area Permit … would be required if the Town pursues the activities described in the work plan,” the agency wrote.

Sullivan’s Island Town Council did not discuss the letter in its Dec. 21 meeting, when three members of the seven-person panel were absent. Town Administrator Andy Benke said he expects a discussion on the forest in January.

Jamie Hood, an attorney for the homeowners who sued the town and then settled, said in an email that the plaintiffs would keep working with Sullivan’s Island to make sure the plan is approved by the state.

“We will need to consider whether there are modifications to make to the current work plan or if the permit application should be submitted with the current work plan as is,” Hood wrote.

At the same time, a turnover in Town Council since the settlement was reached and pressure from a vocal group of activists on the island may ultimately serve to scuttle the work.

The council recently decided to hire an outside attorney, William Wilkins, to review the settlement. Wilkins, a former federal judge, wrote in a letter earlier this month that the agreement may be unenforceable, because it is too restrictive of the council’s powers to make policy for the town.

But to actually challenge the settlement, the council would have to vote on moving forward with a legal action.

South Carolina Department Of Health And Environmental Control ‘Concerned’ About Plans To Trim Maritime Forest

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye NewsThe South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agr...

By Brian Sherman for The Island Eye News

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is “concerned” about how and how many trees would be removed from Sullivan’s Island’s Maritime Forest under a plan created for the town by consultant Thomas & Hutton. In a Dec. 20, 2021 letter, DHEC Beachfront Permitting Project Manager Matthew Slagel wrote that the plan would require a major critical area permit. The plan was developed after a divided Sullivan’s Island Town Council reached an agreement with homeowners who live near the Maritime Forest, apparently settling a lawsuit originally filed in July 2010 and permitting the removal of trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Under the plan, based on a 2014 survey of trees 6 inches in diameter and larger, in one section of the forest, 167 of 174 trees would be removed. In another section, only 16 of 79 trees would remain in place. “DHEC found that in certain areas, 96% of all trees would be removed.

Studies by three federal agencies, including NOAA and FEMA, show that the density and height of vegetation and trees are our most important protection from the No. 1 threat on the island: hurricane storm surge,” said Karen Byko, president of Sullivan’s Island for All, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the Sullivan’s Island Maritime Forest and accreted land in its natural state for the benefit, protection and enjoyment of all. In the Dec. 20 letter, Slagel also raised concerns about how trees and vegetation would be removed. “You have proposed to use a skid steer mower mounted to a small rubber-tired tractor or similar machinery within this area to cut at ground level and mulch in place trees and shrubs 3 inches and smaller. It is our opinion that utilizing machinery in the beach/ dune system will disturb and alter existing soils and topography, even if the trees and shrubs themselves are cut at ground level,” the letter said. Slagel also pointed out that the DHEC Bureau of Water Coastal Stormwater Permitting is working with Thomas & Hutton to obtain information about how changes in vegetation cover might affect stormwater runoff. According to a Sullivan’s Island for All press release, the DHEC letter “shows that this plan is environmentally unsound and goes far beyond vegetation thinning and trimming.” “As DHEC’s stormwater division noted, removing these thousands of trees and shrubs puts the island at much greater risk of flooding,” Byko said. “These trees work as nature’s stormwater pumps. Taking them away for better views puts every homeowner on the island at greater risk.” DHEC’s concerns are not the only thing holding up the implementation of plans to remove trees and other vegetation from the Forest. Of the four Council members who voted to approve the settlement agreement with nearby homeowners, only two remain in office: Greg Hammond and Kaye Smith. Tim Reese was defeated in the May 4 municipal election, and Chauncey Clark lost his bid to unseat Mayor Pat O’Neil.

The new Council, which apparently is considering its options in its effort to change the terms of the agreement, voted in September 2021 to ask the former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth District William W. “Billy’ Wilkins to assess the agreement. Wilkins determined that the agreement is invalid “because its provisions improperly restrict the legislative/governmental powers of successor Town Councils, improperly divest the town of legislative/governmental powers and improperly restrict the proprietary functions of the town.”

Sullivan’s Island Town Council votes to seek legal review of maritime forest settlement

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of tr...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND — Town Council affirmed it would seek an independent lawyer to review the town’s rights under a settlement agreement that cleared the way to remove parts of a maritime forest.

The council voted 4-2 during a Sept. 29 special meeting in favor of seeking a legal review of the lawsuit, part of a decadelong issue centering around a conserved forest on the island’s southern half of its beachfront side.

The maritime forest, once scrubland, has developed over the years into a mature thicket of trees and wetlands growing outward toward the Atlantic Ocean.

It sprouted on slowly accreting land, a side effect of jetties that stop ocean sand from drifting away from the island — a rarity in South Carolina, where most islands are eroding at various rates.

Four residents living next to the forest filed a lawsuit in 2010 against the town and its council, alleging the government had violated their property rights.

Among their chief complaints: The overgrown, unruly brush harbored vermin and mosquitoes, limited breeze flow and presented a fire hazard.

A local ordinance permitted these residents to trim their bushes to be no less than 3 feet tall, but the town had denied their applications to do so, the suit alleged.

The issue wouldn’t be decided until 10 years later. On Oct. 2, 2020, following private mediation talks, the council voted 4-3 to settle the lawsuit, thus greenlighting the plan to thin the forest.

The agreement reached between the plaintiffs and the town stipulated several tree species and shrubs would be cut depending on their location in the forest, some with diameters as large as 17 inches.

Opponents to the settlement maintain the green space must be conserved and nature should be left to run its course. Many of them had attended the most recent council meeting, requesting members bring the settlement back before a judge to clarify certain parts.

More than two dozen people gathered at the Sept. 29 special meeting, spreading out to follow social distancing guidelines. Some stood along the crowded room’s back wall, eager to speak.

But there was no opportunity for public comment; the council entered executive session almost immediately after the meeting began, much to the chagrin of residents.

Council members debated for around an hour before coming to a vote.

Members Scott Millimet, Justin Novak, Mayor Patrick O’Neil and Gary Visser voted in favor of hiring outside legal counsel while Greg Hammon and Kaye Smith voted against. Councilman Bachman Smith was not present.

Susan Middaugh, who has lived on Sullivan’s since 1980, said she was thrilled with the council’s decision to seek a legal review of the settlement.

Middaugh serves as a board member with Sullivan’s Island For All, a local conservation group staunchly opposed to the settlement. Her main issue is the manner in which the lawsuit was settled, she said.

The four council members who had supported settling weren’t forthcoming during their campaigns on how they felt about preserving the maritime forest, Middaugh said.

But two of them were ousted during the May election, their seats replaced with council members who both oppose the settlement.

Now, conservationists such as Middaugh are hopeful the current council, with its 5-2 majority, will consider any legal recourse that could be taken to amend the lawsuit.

One piece of the settlement the conservationists have pushed against is a “good faith and fair dealing” clause, which stipulates parties to the agreement can’t hinder the cutting work.

A lawyer whom a group of conservationists hired to examine the settlement raised a key question: Would this current agreement unfairly “bind” the council from making future public policy decisions?

“We’re trying to get (Town Council) to at least get a judicial review,” Middaugh explained. “It doesn’t directly challenge the settlement, it’s like a judicial review of the terms of the settlement to see if it’s legal.”

Debate over how to best manage the maritime forest has sharply divided this close-knit island community. The two sides — those for and those against the settlement — fundamentally disagree over many of the issues at play.

Vermin and mosquitoes exist everywhere on the island, and the brush doesn’t present the kind of fire hazard a pine forest would, for example. Breezes are blocked primarily because of large homes stacked several stories high and built next to one another, Middaugh said.

Conservationists also believe the forest serves as an important protective barrier against potential storm surges. But one pro-settlement resident said if a major hurricane hit Sullivan’s Island, the dense vegetation wouldn’t stand a chance.

These people are also adamant the forest is a tinderbox — just think back to the 2009 Myrtle Beach fire, one said.

Both sides, however, can agree the crux of the issue isn’t really about rats, or wildfires, or getting a good breeze. It’s about the view.

The town had placed the maritime forest into a land trust in 1991, after Hurricane Hugo devastated much of the island. The trust protected the forest from being built up, which pleased conservationists as well as ocean homeowners; both the trees and their beach view would be protected.

But the forest grew over time, with little oversight from the town, said pro-settlement residents.

Some people took matters into their own hands, removing nuisance vegetation themselves. The group of four who filed the 2010 lawsuit against the town and council “went about it the right way,” said Kimberly Brown, a Sullivan’s resident since 2015.

Two of the plaintiffs, Ettaleah and Nathan Bluestein, lost the ocean view they had after first moving to the island, along with the ability to even go through their yard, Brown said.

“He has no path to the beach, he’s got no view, he’s got no breeze,” she said, adding the Bluesteins were just trying to get back what they once had.

Brown said she understands conservation-minded folks like Middaugh, and identifies as conservation-minded herself.

“We all are. Everyone loves trees,” she said, adding none of the pro-settlement folks were “looking to wipe everything.”

But the town had promised residents living along the maritime forest it would always maintain the land, along with their ocean views, Brown said.

“The town kind of went back on their word, and that’s what this whole thing is about,” she said.

Some residents felt frustrated following the council’s vote, as it meant more stalling before a final decision would be reached, despite the fact the lawsuit was settled nearly a year ago.

“We had come to an agreement, we mediated, let’s honor it,” Brown said. “If everybody kept going after something when they couldn’t get what they wanted, it’d be kind of lawless.”

The council adjourned after taking its vote without discussing any other business or elaborating on next steps in seeking guidance from an outside attorney.

Sullivan’s Island Town Council votes to reexamine forest cutting plan

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Sullivan’s Island Town Council has voted to weigh its legal options in the plan to cut the maritime forest. The town agreed to cut 150 acres of the maritime forest in a legal settlement last year.The issues with the maritime forest have been ongoing for years, but stem from a conflict with homeowners arguing the forest hurts property values...

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The Sullivan’s Island Town Council has voted to weigh its legal options in the plan to cut the maritime forest. The town agreed to cut 150 acres of the maritime forest in a legal settlement last year.

The issues with the maritime forest have been ongoing for years, but stem from a conflict with homeowners arguing the forest hurts property values by blocking the view of the beach. They also allege the forest is overgrown and creates homes for pests.

However, local groups like “Sullivan’s Island for All” say the forest is a storm break, helps address flooding and provides a unique island habitat.

“The wildlife and the environmental ecosystem that’s out there is one of a kind, not only for Sullivan’s Island but probably for the entire country,” said Dan Krosse with Sullivan’s Island for All. “This is a national gem.”

Krosse says the settlement was reached with a previous iteration of the town council. Earlier this year, the island held a municipal election in which four of the seven council members were replaced. Krosse says that election was a referendum on the maritime forest settlement.

“Even though four new council members were elected here, the people who wrote the settlement said there’s nothing anyone can ever do, you can’t touch this settlement and we find that hard to believe,” Krosse said. “It just seems crazy to a lot of people.”

Krosse says there was very little public input on the settlement because meetings were shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions last year.

Sullivan’s Island for All sought outside legal advice from Land-Use and Environmental Lawyer Ross Appel. They say there are two legal mechanisms the town council take advantage of in an attempt void the settlement. Those mechanisms are a Declaratory Judgement Act and Rule 60 of the South Carolina Civil Procedure.

The town council chose to seek its own, outside legal counsel to get an idea of what options are available. Council members did not discuss the decision but did make it clear that this is just legal advice at this point and not necessarily an attempted to void the settlement.

Cyndy Ewing has been a Sullivan’s Island resident for 20 years. She says this decision is a win for the forest but adds it’s just one step in the movement to save it.

“This has obviously been a good thing,” Ewing said. “We are going to give full support to the town council members that voted for this and also try and woo the two council members who voted against it and let them understand what the science is.”

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Rat Poison Kills More Than Rats

By Mary Pringle for The Island Eye NewsMany of us who live on barrier islands where houses are elevated have had the unfortunate experience of having rats get into our garage ceilings or house walls and do damage to water lines, electric wires, sheetrock, or ductwork. Sometimes they even die inside the walls and create an awful smell. An even bigger problem is that rat poisons can be a danger to other beneficial wildlife such as hawks, owls, bald eagles, vultures and nonvenomous rat snakes that die from eating poisoned rats. Though so...

By Mary Pringle for The Island Eye News

Many of us who live on barrier islands where houses are elevated have had the unfortunate experience of having rats get into our garage ceilings or house walls and do damage to water lines, electric wires, sheetrock, or ductwork. Sometimes they even die inside the walls and create an awful smell. An even bigger problem is that rat poisons can be a danger to other beneficial wildlife such as hawks, owls, bald eagles, vultures and nonvenomous rat snakes that die from eating poisoned rats. Though some may not be popular with people, these predators and scavengers have an important role to play in keeping our rodent population in check. Pets have also been known to eat poisoned rats. These poisons have had a dramatic effect on Kiawah Island’s bobcats which had a population of about 35. In recent years, because of the use of certain rat poisons, their numbers are down to about 10. This has led to an increase in the deer population and necessitated a deer management program because of problems such as disease-causing ticks. Kiawah has begun a Bobcat Guardian Program that includes residents working to preserve bobcat habitat using native plants and pest control providers who have discontinued the use of rat poisons. I have witnessed poison’s effects on wildlife when called to capture an adult bald eagle on a plantation near Huger, SC and again on Sullivan’s Island where neighbors witnessed a Red-tail hawk suffering from toxicity. Even though I was able to get them to a medical facility for treatment, the damage was so severe that both soon died. The neighbors on Sullivan’s said that someone on their block had been aggressively poisoning rats. An article in the winter 2021 issue of Audubon magazine by Chris Sweeney has well illustrated the effects of what they are calling “second-generation anticoagulants.” These are much stronger and kill more quickly than the earlier ones such as warfarin. The four very toxic ones include brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum and difethialone. No product with these on the label should be used. Although the EPA has made an effort to restrict these products, they have unfortunately become available through online sources including Amazon, Walmart.com, eBay, etc., and can be ordered by anyone. The pandemic has caused a spike in rat populations in some cities and caused an increase in orders of these products. According to Sweeney’s article, a problem with these very strong products is something called their “half-life” which means they can accumulate in the food chain with more birds tested with anticoagulants building up in their bodies. At the Tufts University Wildlife Clinic in 2019, 100% of 43 Red-tailed hawks tested positive for these poisons even if they did not all die because of them. What can we do here on our islands to get rid of rats without using rat poison? Here at my house, we have had good success using the old-fashioned “snap traps” baited with peanut butter to control rats. Then we bury them. Care must be taken, however, to place traps in an enclosed space where pets or children cannot accidentally spring them.

Mary Pringle is chairperson of the Isle of Palms Environmental Advisory Committee and holds permits from SCDNR for sea turtle nesting and rescue/stranding response.

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