E-RAT-ication pilot program a “success” in targeted neighborhoods
In April, Baltimore County unveiled an extensive rat eradication pilot program meant to target nine communities, including Middlesex and Hawthorne.
Based on a three-phased approach, the plan included intensive extermination treatment, increased trash pick-up, and educational follow-up meant to eliminate rat populations over an eight-week period.
“We have been working closely with the County Council and community members over the past few months to take a fresh look at how the County can control the rat population. We believe that this multi-pronged
approach will yield results, and by creating a pilot in 9 targeted neighborhoods, we can evaluate its effectiveness before expanding to other communities,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz during the announcement.
Code Enforcement Coordinator Adam Whitlock said that while hard data isn’t yet available about the program’s success, he has been hearing rave reviews from residents in the affected neighborhoods.
“We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from the community and residents who say it all has been successful, they’ve been seeing really positive results,” he said.
The first stage involves a crew from Regional Pest Management, a local company, walking through alleys and backyards, searching for evidence of rat activity, like burrows or droppings. Letters will be handed out to residents, letting them know when and where extermination crews will be by. If there are signs of an infestation, exterminators will place poison, in either powder or pellet form, into the burrow. Following this initial application, extermination crews will monitor and check up on the property, applying more treatments as needed.
“Everything is basically done underground because that’s the safest and most effective method for animals and children in the area,” said Whitlock.
If your property has been treated, a red ribbon will be placed on your door. If your property didn’t show any signs of rats, it will be a green ribbon.
The second phase is preventative, removing trash, a food source for rats, more frequently with two-timesa-week garbage pick-up. The third stage is increasing educational opportunities for residents, including rat-related information sessions, community clean-ups, and continued communication with associations and residents.
While he said many residents don’t need much convincing that rats are a blight, Whitlock explained that they are not only a health concern and can carry other pests like fleas, but they can reduce property values and can easily spread to other houses and neighborhoods.
The nine areas were chosen based on analysis by Code Enforcement officials and discussions with County Council members and community leaders.
“We looked at where we have done prior extermination services over the years. These are some of the hotbutton areas that we’ve seen a lot of rat activity and where we’ve gotten a lot of complaints around rat-related issues,” said Whitlock. “You kind of get to know where you have rat problems and you know the conditions there. These places certainly need it.”
Other targeted neighborhoods include Colgate, Berkshire, West Inverness, and Hillendale.
“We’re moving in the right direction. When they see something they work to make sure the problem is taken care of. I’d say it’s definitely working,” said Ed Kramer of the Hawthorne Civic Association, one of the organizations that Whitlock has personally worked with during the planning stages of the pilot programs.
Kramer said that the community’s biggest challenge in tackling the rat problem is changing the residents’ mind and behavior. A sim- ple act, he explained, such as properly securing your trash can, will help keep rats at bay.
“Code enforcement and fines alone have not been as effective as desired. Partnerships like this and community education must be part of the solution to our trash and rodent problems, and give us pride in our neighborhoods,” said Kamenetz.
Moving forward, Whitlock said members of Code Enforcement will continue sweeping the neighborhoods, working with community groups like Kramer’s, and issuing citations to households leaving out food sources for rats to prevent future problems.
The extermination process is expected to cost $170,000 and the increased trash collection for the targeted areas will cost $600,000 annually, adding up to a $770,000 price tag for the entire pilot program.
For more information on the rat eradication program and rat prevention, visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/permits/ratattack.
Middlesex resident Cliff O’Connell (right) holds a sign that says “Middlesex Community No Rats Zone” at a County Council meeting on Monday March 7, in Towson. For the last five Legislative Sessions of the Baltimore County Council, residents of the 6th and 7th Council Districts assembled in the Council Chambers to voice concerns about rat infestations in their neighborhoods.