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St. Clair Shores

February 13, 2013

Resident outcry quashes bounty program

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

Rats!

Media coverage locally and across the country brought such a hailstorm of criticism to the city from residents that St. Clair Shores has abandoned plans to offer a $5 bounty for every rat trapped within the city’s borders.

Mayor Kip Walby said Feb. 4 that the city did receive a lot of press, much of it negative, from the idea, but pointed out that, often, the city is criticized for doing nothing about a problem.

“We did try to put it out there,” he said. “It’s not just St. Clair Shores (that has a problem with rodents). It’s clearly in multiple counties around here.

“What we are trying to do is give you something that says, ‘We do care.’”

Although he maintains that nothing the city does will ever “appease everyone,” the proposed bounty program has been suspended.

“We are concerned about our employees … handling the rodents, but we’re also concerned about getting rid of (rats),” he said. “We are suspending it, we are not going to do it. We are going to work on the garbage cans, which are positive.”

The bounty was just one aspect of a plan to eliminate rats in the city announced in January. The other two portions of the proposed plan were moving to a trash hauler with a 96- or 64-gallon trash can the entire city would use — the city’s waste contract expires in June — and expanding the city’s inspection and baiting program.

Walby said city officials are also meeting with the Michigan Department of Agriculture, along with officials from the cities of Roseville and Eastepointe, to talk about different pesticides to use to combat the problem.

Acting City Manager Mike Smith said he was happy to see the huge response from city residents when the proposal was put forth.

“The public, when we challenged them to come forward —give us their comments — did do that,” he said.

He said they had already been contacted by a resident in the city asking them to come and check for rodent problems in a yard, which led to a neighbor cleaning up a yard full of “areas of harborages.”

“I don’t think there’s a resident in this city that is intentionally providing an environment that is positive for rodents,” Smith said. Anything that “helps us help them, then, I think … is a positive thing.”

He said samples of proposed trashcans have been on display at City Hall for residents to see and will also be taken to the Senior Center for members’ perusal.

But not everyone thinks changing the way trash is put on the curb is the way to go.

Resident David Deacon of St. Clair Shores said he disagrees with the “concept of using these big trash bins.”

“It’s going to add to everyone’s expense,” he said at the City Council meeting. “Somebody’s got to pay for it. Let’s not rush into something. There’s no urgency to make a change.”

Smith said residents can call his office at (586) 447-3311 to report a rodent problem, or send an email to smithm@scsmi.net.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.