West Town Tops List For Rat Complaints In Chicago

Chicago’s issues with rats are no secret to anyone, but just how bad is the city’s rodent problem? CBS 2’s Tara Molina dug into the numbers Wednesday, focusing on the community area we found has more rat complaints than any other – West Town.

Video Transcript

- Right now at Hour18, the warm summer weather is bringing out Chicago's rat population in full force. The city is seeing a big uptick in calls to 311 about the pests.

- But how bad is the rodent problem really? We're digging into the numbers tonight with our Tara Molina, live from the neighborhood we found has more rat complaints than any other, West Town. Tara.

TARA MOLINA: Erica and Brad, we found through a public records request people here in West Town have already filed more than 1,000 complaints about rats just this year, thousands in the past three years. And the people who live here that we've talked to today, they're not surprised by that.

Quiet streets, family homes, and alleys that look pretty tidy. But the sun is shining. We're told it's a whole different story here at night, when the West Town rats come out.

MATTHEW MERTZ: Well, I'll talk to you about rats.

TARA MOLINA: Matthew Mertz and his family live on one of the streets we checked out today.

MATTHEW MERTZ: Which new hole did we find in the side of our yard?

TARA MOLINA: Streets with some of the most rat complaints to 311.

MATTHEW MERTZ: They are big.

TARA MOLINA: They saw the same, well-fed cat-sized rat so many times here.

MATTHEW MERTZ: We named one of them.



TARA MOLINA: But Chubby.

MATTHEW MERTZ: Chubby was a well-fed snacking machine.

TARA MOLINA: Gone now. Matt says thanks to the city.

MATTHEW MERTZ: Goodbye, Chubby. Adios.

TARA MOLINA: And call after call to 311, trap after trap. With more than 1,200 rat complaints filed in West Town just this year, we looked at the same time frame in years past, and found consistently high numbers here. And while West Town has the highest number of complaints in the city, there followed closely by Portage Park, Logan Square, and Lakeview.

We asked Chicago's Streets and Sanitation Department about the success Matt told us they had here, and what's being done about the rat problem across Chicago, complaints or not. A spokesperson didn't give us specific info on the city's efforts, only that rodent baiting this year is a priority. And they're currently meeting their goal to respond to all rat complaints within five days. An effort we're told they've seen here in West Town.

MATTHEW MERTZ: And call the city. They do help, and they do bait, and they do put poisons down, and it worked.

TARA MOLINA: The spokesperson for Streets-- the spokesperson for Streets and Sans went on to tell me that all of us need to play a role in solving the city's rat problem. That means cleaning up after your pets, cleaning up around your bird feeders, and closing and containing garbage, not like this can you see here. Erica?

- Yeah. And Tara, we know the Tree House Humane Society is using feral cats to fight the problem across the city.

TARA MOLINA: Erica, we learned they're placing 10 to 15 cats in different neighborhoods every single month. We tried to learn more about how many cats they have here in the West Town neighborhood. We're still waiting for that specific number tonight, but we'll make sure to put it up online as soon as we've got more information.

- All right. Tara Molina, thank you.