City manager to announce rat program

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 7, 2012

Responding to residents’ concerns throughout the past few months, City Manager Ben Hughes said he would be announcing a new program in November to help get control of the rat and rodent population in St. Clair Shores.

“We will be coming back to this body … Nov. 19 with some different proposals,” he announced at the Oct. 29 City Council meeting. “Each of those … will have an estimated dollar amount attached to them (and are) going to involve the expenditure of some public funds.”

He said they would also be investigating economies of scale, by working with surrounding municipalities that are facing the same problem: a suggestion from Councilwoman Candice Rusie.

“We’re not alone in this,” Rusie said.

Hughes said one of the options would be for city employees or contractors to go door to door throughout the city, asking residents if they would like rat traps, which would be provided at the city’s cost. Another option would be to target just those areas of the city that already have a documented rat problem and offer the same thing. A third option, possibly to be done in conjunction with one of the other two, is for the city to take a more aggressive approach to baiting public property, from sewer grates to manhole covers and underground sewers, along with public parking lots and alleys.

Hughes said, if approved by City Council, those going door to door would be looking for residents’ permission before entering a back or side yard for possible abatement.

“If a homeowners or a renter is determined to be the cause or harboring rats because of violations in their back or side yards, we will need to take actions on that property owner to make sure they come into compliance,” Hughes said.

At the October meeting, Hughes said the rat problem has arisen, in part, because some people do not follow the city codes and ordinances.

“We hear you, we take it seriously,” he said. “It’s government’s role, (its) responsibility, to put some solutions together.”

However, he said, the problem may not be as bad as it has been made out to be.

“We do have neighborhoods, specific pockets of rats,” he said. “We do not have a public health crisis because of rats. We accurately need to describe the problem as one that, hopefully, has a solution and has not reached a crisis point.”