ENGLEWOOD — Rats are out of control in Englewood, according to a South Side alderman, and he wants aggressive action — both to battle the rats and the people leaving the trash out that’s feeding them.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) is taking extreme measures to get rid of them, requesting that all 308 alleys within the ward be immediately baited with rat poison on a rolling basis, a move that has some residents angry.
“Both (15th) ward offices have seen increases in calls from residents regarding rising rodent populations,” Lopez told resident. “This requires immediate and aggressive action in order to regain control of the situation.”
Lopez made the announcement via Facebook, telling residents that in addition to the poison, he’s instructed his ward superintendent to immediately issue citations for sanitation violations, adding that “leniency and warnings haven’t changed behavior.”
“My offices will continue to educate residents about the responsibilities of living in our communities. Residents have ample opportunities and venues to request additional or replacement garbage carts if they choose to do so,” said Lopez.
While some applauded Lopez for his handling of the matter, the rat poison idea didn’t go over so well with a number of residents, who let Lopez have it in the comments section.
“No rat poison left out. We don’t want it,” said one resident. “Ticket the dumb humans and leave the poison out of it. If we can’t clean up like filthy slobs then we deserve the damn rats! Why lay poison, that’s horrible and not safe. I don’t care what you say about me, humans are selfish pigs and need to wake up.”
“Thank you for addressing this issue! However, rat poison is just poison and can kill other animals, including dogs and cats. Please do not use and address the issue with your other options. As well as add more garbage cans,” commented another.
Another resident reposted a message sent from the viewpoint of an owl who perished after eating a poisoned mouse.
Despite the protests, Lopez told Block Club that he’ll be moving forward with the plan.
“As is so often the case, those that oppose my efforts aren’t dealing with the issue at hand,” said Lopez.
Marjani Williams, Director of Public Affairs for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation, said that the head of Rodent Control is aware of Lopez’s concerns and believe they are working together to address the problem.
Citywide, resident complaints have dropped this year, the department said. And to keep the rat numbers down, Streets and San announced it they will be deploying seven new crews throughout the city. Rodent abatement is provided year-round; if a resident calls in with a complaint, Streets and San usually acts on it in five days or less, the department said.
If residents need help with rodents on their property, Streets and San will need permission to collapse potential rat burrows and put down rodenticide.
While some residents have concerns about the safety of rodenticide, Williams said that the treatment is safe, adding that it is only used to fill in rat burrows.
“We encourage people to always call 311 and report it to us,” said Williams. “Our crews will go to the location and assess the situation to see if there are potential food sources, like overflowing dumpsters or tech waste, that the rodents are feeding on. We try to educate residents as best we can to mitigate those issues, but naturally you’re going to have some issues living in a major city.”
Longtime resident Alvin Bridgeforth said though he hasn’t seen or experienced any rodent activity, he has informed Lopez of his concerns about over-stuffed garbage cans and visitors who routinely toss food on the ground instead of in the trash.
“You couple that with there being properties that are vacant and overgrown, and there’s the chance that the rats have breeding areas that go unchecked,” said Bridgeforth.