Health & Environment

Committee Reports Less Rats in the North End; Take the Poll

Are you missing the fuzzy, long-tailed, beady-eyed rodents? According to residents, the earthly creatures are few and far between these days and showing up much less than at this time last year.

The update came at Tuesday night’s meeting with John Meany, Director of Environmental Services at the City’s Inspectional Services Department. The meeting was hosted by the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association, Parks and Open Spaces Committee. Anne M. Pistorio chaired the meeting and handed out several references regarding rats and rodent control.

John Meany, ISD, Environmental Services at Tuesday’s meeting on rodent control in the North End. (Photo by Matt Conti)

“It’s been a much better summer for rodent control in the North End,” said Meany, attributing the change to recent sewer linings, more effective baiting and bonnet flaps on street catch basins.

The sentiment was applauded by the dozen or so attendees including Janet Gilardi who exclaimed, “There was an extreme improvement this summer. We went from seeing 40 rats a night to none.”

Despite the improvements, Meany and others reported on a few hot spots, such as the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway and between narrow building spaces common in the North End. He also advised landlords to instruct new tenants on how to properly put out trash (See the Trash Tips Sheet.)

One recent controversy that Meany commented on was the loose rat poison spread on Greenough Lane where two dogs were taken to the hospital after ingesting it. The ISD director said the city would never put out loose rat poison. He said the city baits mostly using lavacide in sewers where the poison is inaccessible from the public. He also notes that any rat poison sold in stores comes in containers, not loose.

The meeting was largely a teach-in about “more than you would ever want to know” about rats in the North End / Waterfront. Besides the psychological anxiety caused by rats, the largest worry is food borne illness and the spread of disease.

Committee Chair Anne Pistorio mentioned a New York Times article where two people were killed at Yosemite Park where as many as 1,700 others were possibly exposed to a lethal rodent-borne disease caused by breathing particles of mouse urine or droppings. Meany was aware of the case and advised residents to always use disinfectant when cleaning up rodent droppings to avoid inhaling dangerous dropping fumes.

Rats can fit through the space of a quarter and need to chew incessantly to keep their teeth from growing too long. Steel wool and wire mesh are two of the few substances that rats cannot chew through. Rats and mice generally do not share the same habitats. In fact, seeing mice is a good sign that the rats are gone.

NEWRA Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee co-chair, David Kubiak, asked about how Meany’s ISD department coordinates with the city’s health inspectors. Meany indicated that his inspectors are looking more at the pest control reports required by restaurants. ISD said that all restaurants are required to have private trash pick-ups and should not be using the city’s residential trash pickup services. All commercial trash is supposed to be in covered bins.

Meany advised residents to file rodent issues and complaints through the hotline at 617-635-4500 or Citizens Connect.

Do you agree with the committee and city’s assessment about fewer rats in the neighborhood? Vote in the poll below.

One Reply to “Committee Reports Less Rats in the North End; Take the Poll

  1. I spoke too soon, this morning (Friday, September 14, 2012) I went out to do some errands~~~2 doorways away from my home, in between two cars, I saw a Big Fat Rat~~Plain and simple~~No other way to describe it !!!!
    Luckily, he was as dead as a doornail !!!! It just looked so awful !!! Of course I couldn’t wait to call the City and alert my nearest neighbors not to have children or dogs going near that area, until it was removed !!!
    Within a couple of hours~~~Thank God~~~the Code Enforcement Department arrived and did their job !!! Well again, I was pleased with the City’s Quick Response !!!
    ONE DOWN AND ?????? TO GO !!!!

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