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Rats! Aldermen Say Evanston's Got Rodent Problems

Two aldermen report that rat sightings are up, but the current ordinance won’t allow the city to exterminate in condos or commercial real estate properties.

Two Evanston aldermen are calling for the city to change an ordinance that limits the health department’s ability to respond to local rat infestations.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd Ward) raised the issue that, under current law, the city of Evanston’s health department cannot call exterminators to local condominiums and other commercial real estate properties.

“If you live in a single family home, the city will inspect your property and then pay for the exterminator to come out and exterminate the whole neighborhood,” Wynne said Thursday. “However, if you live in one of these condos—and these are people who have lived there for 15 or 20 years—our ordinance does not permit the city to do the same thing in that neighborhood, which is to say, ‘we’re going to attack this problem in a comprehensive way’.”

Constituent reports of rat sightings are up this year, say both Wynne and Ald. Donald Wilson (4th Ward). While neither expressed certainty as to the cause of this increase, both mentioned that the mild winter could have something to do with it.

Wynne called rat infestations a public health issue, noting that the rodents have been known to carry disease. She said that infestations must be addressed on larger scale and in a unified manner, otherwise the rat problems will shift rather than cease.

“Frankly, rats are just too smart,” Wynne said. “They will just move from one building to the next.”

Wynne, whose lakefront ward contains numerous condo buildings, said that she was still determining how to best address the issue in an amended ordinance. An effective solution would have to determine how multiple condominium boards, meeting on different schedules, would quickly coordinate when rat problems arose, she said.

But the city can’t solve the problem on its own.

Wilson and Wynne both called upon the public to help the health officials prevent infestations. They cited open trash containers, garbage outside of bins, bird feeders, furniture left in alleys, open compost piles and dog feces as potential culprits.

Residents should call 311 or send an online notification to report rat sightings and schedule inspections. In order for the city to inspect and treat a property, the owner must sign a “rodenticide release of liability form”.

Lisa July 02, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I pick up my Mom from work at 909 Davis Street and several times while im waitng for her I will see Rats running in & out of the Flowers planted along the driveway between the Merta Station & EL.
lucas July 02, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Wonder if bar city is opening will have them
Tea July 03, 2012 at 02:43 AM
In all seriousness, I'm appalled that the City of Evanston has stupid laws with regard to condo's and rat control. I live in a condo and never knew the policy of dealing with a rodent infestation. In fact, I wasn't aware that our town was so over-run with these critters. I mean, rats running amok in downtown Evanston? WOW! Now I'm really on edge because those little chipmunks are always in my garage which is located off of the alley, and now I'm concerned about rats getting in and setting up shop.
jim July 03, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I guess my 15% in crease in property taxes to the City doesn't cover Rodent Problems
lucas July 09, 2012 at 01:25 PM
nice Rats strolling down Sherman this morning at Washington. He totally ignored my dog and I. Was sniffing for something to nibble on.

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