Niles passes wildlife ordinance to help curb rat problem

Niles has become home to more and more rats, prompting the village trustees to implement a wildlife feeding ordinance meant to curb the issue at their March 28 board meeting.

The uptick in the rat population began in 2020 after COVID started up, spokesperson Mitch Johnson wrote in an email to Pioneer Press.

“The village started to experience an increase in rodent activity shortly after the restaurants had closed and the rodents had to find other sources of food,” Johnson wrote.

The rats are most pronounced in residential areas near the forest preserve and in commercial areas, Johnson said.

The village’s rodent control page states that “bird and wildlife feeders are… prime attractants for rats.”

Rodents may also take up residence in firewood piles, gardens and outbuildings like garages and sheds, the village’s rat control page states.

The ordinance passed March 28 does not prohibit feeding wildlife but is meant to “help guide residents to use more manageable and sanitary ways to feed wildlife,” the memo attached to the proposed ordinance states.

It passed unanimously on consent agenda, which allows trustees to approve routine business items without discussion.

The ordinance covers hanging bird feeders and several other modes of dispensing food to wildlife. These include hummingbird feeders, platform feeders, which are usually open and put on the ground, suet feeders, which are fat-based balls of feed for insect-eating birds, and water sources like birdbaths.

It prohibits leaving food for wild deer, including hand feeding, and states that feeding animals on someone else’s property is not allowed.

“If there is rodent activity at the residence that is providing the feed or any adjacent property, the Village has the right to require removal of the feeders until the activity has ceased,” the ordinance reads.

Residents will not be allowed to have more than four hanging bird feeders, two suet bird feeders, two water sources and one platform bird feeder per property, the ordinance states.

Bird feeders larger than 400 square inches are not allowed under the ordinance and all bird feeders must be located at least five feet within property lines.

Platform feeders will not be allowed to have more than a pound of feed at a time and must have a rim at least an inch high to contain the feed, the ordinance states.

Residents will also be required to remove or cover all unused food before sundown every day.

Other ways for residents to prevent rodents on their property include keeping garbage bins tightly lidded, keeping weeds, shrubs and bushes under control and sealing cracks and holes in buildings, according to information from the village.

Residents who have further questions about rats and pest control may call 847-588-8040 for more information.