'Birdseed Lady' linked to growing rat problem in San Francisco neighborhood

Hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds of birdseed have been dumped around Glen Park over the past two years by the Birdseed Lady.

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, October 13, 2022
'Birdseed Lady' linked to growing rat problem in SF neighborhood
San Francisco's Glen Park residents say there's a growing rat problem and it's caused by bird seeds left on the sidewalks by the "Birdseed Lady."

SAN FRANCISCO -- There's a growing rat problem in the San Francisco neighborhood of Glen Park.

Residents say it's caused by hundreds of pounds of birdseed left on the sidewalks by the so-called "Birdseed Lady."

This week, pest control contractors have been setting out traps in sewers to assess the problem.

Hundreds, possibly thousands of pounds of birdseed have been dumped around Glen Park over the past two years by the Birdseed Lady.

Hilary Schiraldi, president of the Glen Park Association has seen the piles of birdseed everywhere and the rats!

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"I've seen them in my own yard running along the fences," said Schiraldi. "We were enjoying our backyard with friends and there's a rat coming along the fence. This is a recent problem."

Store owner Janet Tarlov with the Glen Park Merchants Association, has tried to clean up the piles of birdseed.

"Usually 15-30 pounds a time. And I had to do this multiple times a day," said Tarlov.

She has seen the Birdseed Lady and tried to intervene.

"A woman was coming around with a cart, with a pull-around grocery cart filled with bird seed and dumping it," said Tarlov. "When I told her no you can't do that, that's going to attract rodents, she spit on me."

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The excessive birdseed has attracted rodents and caused thousands of dollars of damage to Tarlov's business. Her store was shut down temporarily, exacerbating the amount of time and money lost.

"It's getting close to $100,000. It's rough. We're trying to recover from the pandemic," said Tarlov.

The City of San Francisco forbids spreading birdseed in public places.

But, the Birdseed Lady apparently keeps on going.

"She told a business owners in the neighborhood, 'I love these animals'," said Tarlov.

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Glen Park residents and businesses say they still see the woman dumping birdseed in the area. The most recent incident happened two days ago.

People who live and work in the neighborhood reached out to their city supervisor, the police department, and the health department.

On Wednesday, the San Francisco Health Department issue this statement:

"The person has been and is currently connected to health services. We continue to do outreach to offer support and engage the person on additional health services."

A spokeswoman for the City Attorney's office said they sent the woman a "cease and desist" letter last week.

"I hope she gets the help she needs," said Tarlov.

"We understand this is a vulnerable woman and possible mental health issues. So that's why. That's part of why it's so difficult to deal with," said Bonnee Waldstein of Glen Park.

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