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The City responds to rats. It will set out baited boxes, offer homeowners tips to get rid of rat-friendly burrows and check back to see how things are going.
Whether there are more rats, more rat sightings or more rat reportings this year is unclear, said Assistant Health Department Director Carl Caneva, but “there has been an increase in requests to the City for the treatment of rats.”
So far this year the City has received 537 requests for rodent help, an increase of almost 100 over last year’s total of 441 requests. Rats are seen more often in the summer, Mr. Caneva said, because “people are more active and tend to be outside in the summer, so they observe rats more often. “
Contrary to what some may have thought, rats do not seem to be coming out of the trenches dug for sewer- and water-main replacements. Nor is their increase correlated with increased construction around town, Mr. Caneva said.
“While rodents can certainly react to ground disturbances caused by construction, their main concern is locating food, water and shelter. Areas where we have seen increases in rodent reports typically have been in backyards that aren’t well maintained and have overgrowth, or where there is a fairly reliable source of food, such as birdfeeders, dog waste and garbage,” said Mr. Caneva.
The rat problem is not new. Mr. Caneva said the City “has had a continued issue with rodents dating as far back as we have records. There are reports from as far back as the 1940s that reference the Health Department treating for rats.”
The City’s goal is to manage the rat population, but rats are likely here to stay. The Health Department will work with residents and business owners to help address the problem. Killing the rats through the use of baited traps is only one approach, said Mr. Caneva. More effective means of getting rid of rats on one’s property “include things such as cleaning up litter on your property, eliminating all food sources (including fruit and vegetables that have fallen in the back yard), and maintaining structures (sheds, garages, etc.) in good repair. These actions will go much further in managing the problem than traps alone.”
Anyone wishing more information about rats and ways to control them may call 311 or visit the City’s website, www.cityofevanston.org/health/pest-control.