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Eastpointe

December 12, 2012

City revamps rodent-control efforts

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

EASTPOINTE — In response to residential concern, the city of Eastpointe has revamped its rodent-control efforts with increased code enforcement and education.

“We knew there was a problem with people experiencing rodent problems in the community, and we took the necessary steps to limit the problem and prevent future problems,” said City Manager Steve Duchane.

As part of the city’s new rodent-control efforts, rental inspectors and code-enforcement officers were trained to spot signs of rodent problems, and a part-time environmental code-enforcement officer was hired.

“The new code-enforcement officer is trained to look for signs of rats and rodents — that’s all he does,” said Bill Driskel, the city’s public information assistant.

The environmental code-enforcement officer is a part-time employee, costing the city $14 an hour, but Duchane said the rodent-control program will pay for itself through the fees assessed with violations.

Since the new code enforcer started in September, he has initiated 57 investigations and issued 135 rodent violations; a good chunk of those, Duchane said, have come in response to complaints from homeowners.

“This program is not about making money or bringing revenue into the city,” Duchane said. “It’s about addressing the issue and adopting a lifestyle of ceasing the next population of rats from coming in.”

A big part of the plan to stop future generations of rats from nesting in Eastpointe is resident education. A rodent control brochure is featured on the city’s website, www.cityofeastpointe.net, and reminders about rodent-control violations and rodent-control tips will be aired on Eastpointe television and featured on the backs of water bills.

Mayor Suzanne Pixley said she recently attended an Eight Mile and Kelly Homeowners Association meeting, where Waste Management addressed the issue of rodent problems in the area.

“Two good things are not providing them food or giving them a place to stay, so it means keeping your garage door closed and not putting food out there,” Pixley said. “The biggest thing is dog feces; when people don’t pick up their backyards, it attracts rats.”

Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sweeney, a certified pest control specialist, mentioned birdseed also attracts rats.

“Rodents will feed on anything,” Sweeney said. “They’ll eat almost anything. They will eat dog feces, garbage.”

The brochure features additional preventative measures, such as storing all trash inside or keeping it in metal or rat-proof containers with tight-fitting lids, and storing firewood, pipes, boxes and similar items 8 inches or more off the ground.

“Rats have no concept of city boundaries,” said Mary Van Haaren, the director of development, public works and services. “They follow the food trail wherever it goes. Proper refuse storage and getting rid of standing water and spots where rats can nest are the best ways to avoid a rat problem.”

In addition to tips for keeping rats away, the brochure also offers tips on rat-proofing buildings, eliminating rat populations, spotting rat habitats and killing rats with poisons and traps.

“It’s too bad that we have to deal with this, but I am happy we handled it in the manner we did,” Duchane said. “By approaching it through education, notifications and violations, we will be able to address the issue and prevent future rodent-control problems in the city.”

To report rat infestations to the city, call (586) 445-5010.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.