Addressing the Rat Problem
June 21, 2018
Public concern about rodents, particularly rats, has escalated steadily in recent years. Longstanding efforts to combat rodent infestation, overseen by the City's Inspectional Services Department, has had a modicum of success. The Department's resources and manpower, however, have been insufficient to implement a large scale approach to rodent control.
Understanding the need for a more comprehensive and aggressive approach to rodent issues, I have included in the FY 2019 Budget Proposal funding for an integrated pest management program. Accordingly, the City recently has contracted with private vendors to institute concentrated efforts at rodent control based on data compiled by the city's Constituent Services Department.
Beginning shortly--within a week--these contractors will fan out to designated areas of the City and begin their assessment of the city's rat problem. This is a mandatory first step to a comprehensive plan.
Property owners must understand several fundamental points: First, no rodent control program will be of any use without the full cooperation of the public. Second, this is only a first phase of what necessarily will be a long term approach. Third, there is no simple solution.
Subsequent measures will include, during the next several months, the distribution to every household in the City a heavy-duty, rodent-proof, 65-gallon covered trash barrel that will be required for municipal trash collection. The Inspectional Services Department will strictly enforce penalties for failure to use the barrels. In addition, effective extermination and future control methods will be part of the overall plan.
The rat problem is not unique to Revere. Cities throughout Greater Boston, and cities across the country, deal with the problem to varying degrees as rats exist in untold number beneath cities, traveling along sewer and utility lines. Rats colonize in nests and maintain their own territories. Individual rats typically remain within a 150-foot radius of their nest.
Rats survive and flourish in our neighborhoods for one simple reason: their demand for food, water, and shelter is being met. In other words, inadvertently, we are treating rats like pets rather than predators.
The City's strategy, at best, can only supplement important steps that property owners can take in the battle against rats, and property owners can take immediate steps to combat rat problems.
Every rodent control program begins, first and foremost, with sanitation. Food is the prime reason that rats live in and around structures. Overfilled barrels or dumpsters, trash stored in flimsy plastic bags, or trash placed in uncovered containers, are a virtual buffet table for a rat. And a rat can jump as high as three-and-a-half feet, so it is incumbent on every property owner to be sure that trash receptacles are covered and any food stored outdoors is kept in sturdy sealed containers. Dumpsters and trash barrels, as well as the areas where they are stored, should be kept reasonably clean and free of food scraps.
While this is true for every property owner, it is especially true for commercial food handling establishments. Unsanitary conditions on property, careless maintenance of dumpsters, and haphazard trash disposal practices are a welcome mat for rats.
Water also invites rats. Dumpsters and barrels should be kept as far away from water sources as possible, and property owners should take steps to prevent against water pooling under air conditioners or gutters and downspouts.
Rats seek shelter and can squeeze through holes as small as one-half inch in diameter and enter a structure. Property owners must take every effort to seal potential entry points into their homes or garages or sheds with metal mesh, concrete or durable sealants. Overgrown weeds and shrubbery also serve as attractive shelters for rats, so residents are reminded to clear weeds and keep landscaped areas neat.
As the City's pest management control program continues, the contracted extermination companies may use any of multiple methods to exterminate rats. But, while the City will authorize such measures on public property, the city and contracted vendors will require signed authorizations from property owners or managers to access private property and begin the inspection and control process.
It is wishful thinking to believe that "the City" alone can take care of the rat problem. Rodent control is the responsibility of every property owner and resident. The city will coordinate with various departments to implement procedures and processes that fall within a respective department's authority.
But above all else, everyone must help out. Residents should contact 311 if they see rat activity or find burrows dug on their property. This will help the City to continue to accumulate data on rat territories, and also help Inspectional Services personnel focus their enforcement efforts in the most problematic areas.
Rats are a long term problem. Fighting them will entail an intensive long term plan. The first phase of that plan begins now.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The City's contracted vendors are:
- Catseye Pest Control,
- B&B Pest Control,
- Eco-Systems Pest Management, and
- MD Weaver Corporation.
Representatives of these companies will initiate initial contact with residents by distributing fliers and permission waivers to enter on to private property to inspect and assess the situation. No rat control activity will take place on private property unless the
City has received the required permission form and waiver.
- Food, water, and shelter are all a rat needs to stay in place. Residents should take precautionary steps to assure proper trash disposal and keep their property in clean condition.
- The City will distribute rodent-resistant 65-gallon trash barrels to every household in the City and resident will be required to use the barrels or face penalties. With some 16,000 structures in the city, and many of them multi-family, it is anticipated that the distribution will take several months.
- Call the City's Constituent Services Department 311 if you see rat activity or burrows on your property.