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Worried about rodents in your neighborhood?

Don’t panic! The Evanston Health and Human Services Department has your back. The City’s robust Rodent Control Program provides baiting and treatment following an inspection, all free of charge for residents. 

The program, which is primarily aimed at controlling rats, is available for residential properties only. Residents concerned about rats on their property must sign a Rodenticide Release of Liability Form and Rose Pest Solutions, a private rodent control company employed by the City, will provide treatment.

Treatment involves the use of sturdy bait boxes containing rodenticide, a rat poison. The rodenticide used by the City is made with bromadiolone, a powder lethal to rats. The bait boxes, which are placed in areas of high rodent activity, have small openings in the side that allow rats to enter. 

A secondary treatment utilizes powders placed into rat burrows, which are then covered so pets and other animals don’t have access. The treatment is only for a property’s exterior, and will not cover structural repairs or any interior work. 

In addition to providing free treatment, the Health and Human Services Department also enforces rodent control by touring areas with high activity and looking out for things that attract and encourage rats, like piles of wood, tall grass and dilapidated sheds. The Health and Human Services Department will issue a notice to residents and follow up after a couple of weeks to make sure the issues are fixed. 

Occasionally, the Department organizes a rodent walk in which City staff inspect 10 to 12 areas where they have received the largest number of complaints. City staff identify issues and work with property owners to avoid a rodent infestation. Director of Health and Human Services Ike Ogbo said he hopes to hold the next walk before the end of the year, after last year’s walk was cancelled due to COVID. 

To avoid rodents on their property, residents should make sure they are composting in the right receptacle. Compost bins and containers must be maintained, well-sealed and kept away from potential nesting areas like wood piles, sheds or brush piles. Keeping the compost pile moist will also deter animals from nesting there. 

Residents should also keep properties clean of trash, pick up after their dogs and seal sheds and garages. Dense shrubbery provides a space for rats to nest, so overgrown shrubbery needs to be cut and low branches on bushes must be trimmed. Residents should also keep an eye on bird feeders, as they can serve as a food source for rats. 

Rats can carry diseases, gnaw on wiring and damage property, said Ogbo. They are a public health concern and residents need to stay vigilant about cleaning up their properties and looking out for signs of rodents, he added. 

While residents should be aware of the dangers of a rodent infestation, the City actually reports fewer rodent complaints in recent years. There have been 375 requests in Evanston this year, said Ogbo, and the number of rat service requests has decreased by over 50% in the last five years. The requests peaked in 2015, when close to 1,300 rat complaints were logged.

Despite the recent decrease, Ogbo said, “there is a myth that rats just started coming to Evanston.” This is not true, he added: the City has documented rats since the 1940s. 

“This has been an ongoing issue and this is an issue we are working hard to control,” said Ogbo. He encourages residents to call 311 or email the Health and Human Services Department at with any rodent-related questions or concerns. 

Adina Keeling

Adina Keeling is a photojournalist and reporter, covering city news, sustainability, schools, and art. She also investigates mental health systems and environmental injustices in Evanston, and puts together...