Evanston sees rise in calls for rat control

The total number of rodent/rat service requests has risen over the same period from last year, with city officials seeking the help of residents to control the problem.

According to calls received through the city’s non-emergency 311 system, the total number of rodent/rat service requests has risen from 122 for the first six months of 2013 compared to 210 this year.

The calls are spread through all nine wards of the city with the Second Ward – particularly south of Main Street, and bounded by Dodge and Ashland avenues) showing the most at 36.

Some variables contributing to the problem include human behavior, harborage, vegetation, high grass, new construction. Even weather, with rainfall “earlier this year than anticipated” has played a role,  said Evonda Thomas-Smith, the city’s health director, addressing aldermen Monday.

She said greater awareness may also be fueling the higher numbers. People are more aware when they see the rodent activity to call the city number, 847-448-4311 so officials can track service requests, she said.

The city has 170 open complaints, meaning they are being followed, she said. Because of the overwhelming volume, the city has contracted with Rose Pest Control to help them control the problem. The company, whose contract runs into October, is performing surveillance, inspection and baiting activities, she said.

Thomas-Smith said the city’s property maintenance division is working with property owners who have been cited because of poor maintenance, including garbage cans in disrepair or lids overflowing with garbage.

Ald. Ann Rainey, noted concerns about bags of yard wastes improperly stickered in alleys throughout her ward, as well as piles of brush that people have cut down, in need of attention.

She suggested those items should be considered “special pickups,” and that homeowners should be charged if the bundles are picked up.

“Just get rid of it all because I know there have been some piles there two years,” she said.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite said a problem in his ward, near the 1700 block of Madison St., has been addressed, with the property changing hands recently.

His ward previously had a feral cat problem and he used to complain.

“But I don’t anymore,” he said, looking at the city map which included the Second Ward in the focus area.

“Cats do serve a purpose,” he said

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