To stem a rat problem in metro Detroit, St. Clair Shores, a suburb of the city, proposed a $5-per-rat kill bounty. A flood of negative feedback from locals caused the city to nix the plan, says the Detroit Free Press.
How Big Is the Rat Problem?
Rats are a menace, said St. Clair Shores residents on WJBK Fox 2 News. Lying adjacent to Lake St. Clair, the area has many bogs, marshes, and creeks in which the water rodents thrive. Some locals mention seeing several rats per week. Rats have nested in vehicles and caused damage. The problem is so widespread that neighbors have placed rat traps and cut out bushes and shrubs. They've lined lawns with wire mesh and rocks to prevent rats from burrowing. These measures are expensive and invasive. They turn yards into eyesores.
What Was the City's Plan?
City officials looked at several ideas, including using poison bait and creating garbage cans with tighter-fitting lids. The city is planning rat control education programs, too. In January, the city proposed offering homeowners $5 for each dead rat carcass turned in. CBS Detroit says the city had stipulations on how the animal was to be killed. It couldn't be shot. The rat had to be trapped, placed in a plastic bag, and brought in. Explaining the plan, acting City Manager Mike Smith told Fox 2 News, "We know we're not going to trap our way out of rats being in existence." Council members quashed the rat kill bounty, but will reconsider the issue again in March.
What Was the Local Reaction to a Rat Bounty?
Resident response was almost unilaterally negative. Some thought the city should put the money toward prevention, not just treatment. Others felt it cheapened the city's image. Councilwoman Candice Rusie said, "It's unfortunate that we had to incur such negative publicity on our city and our city government."
Marge Pilinski, who lives near Lake St. Clair Park, thinks it a bad idea. "Rats may be repulsive, but so is hunting them. Putting a bounty on them is tacky. Kill traps and poison are dangerous and inhumane. I actually have more trouble with squirrels and racoons than with rats. They're all just looking for food and warmth. We just have to figure out where they're getting those and cut off access."
How Can Residents Control Rats?
The Environmental Protection Agency says residents have reason to be concerned about rats. Their bites are dangerous. They damage property, contaminate food, and spread disease. The EPA gives these suggestions: Identify rat infestation sites. Look for droppings, nesting material, evidence of gnawing, and stale smells coming from hidden areas. Seal holes with patching or steel wool, inside and outside the home, to prevent rodents from entering. Keep food areas clean. Remove nesting sites. The EPA warns to be careful when using kill traps or poison bait around children and pets. The website has rat control demonstration videos. Preventing infestation is the key, the EPA reminds.
A native Michigander, Marilisa Sachteleben writes about people, places, events, and issues in the state's most pivotal city of Detroit.
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