Six months after bringing the work in-house, Evanston’s public health manager says the city’s rat control program is dealing with trouble spots much more quickly.

Greg Olsen told 5th Ward residents Thursday night that after several years of contracting out the work, the city hired two staff members last October to run the program in the field.

Greg Olsen, speaking at the online 5th Ward meeting.

So, he says, instead of having contractors respond to complaints a couple days a week, the two workers are now on the job five days a week.

“It has increased our efficiency and really decreased the response time,” Olsen says.

“Before we were seeking cases that were left open for months on end,” he added. “Now we have cases that can be closed out within a few weeks.”

A heat map showing rat complaints in the 5th Ward in the first three months of this year.

Displaying a heat map of rat complaints in the 5th Ward so far this year, Olsen said, “The one thing that jumps out to me right away is that its all over the place, which is actually really good news because it tells me that residents of the 5th Ward know how to tell us if they see a rat.”

A lot of times, Olsen says, he goes to ward meetings and residents will say they keep seeing rats, “and I’m like, ‘Well, did you tell 311 or let us know?’ and they’re like, ‘Well, no.'”

“Well, we really can’t know that there’s a problem unless someone tells us that there is a problem,” Olsen said.

Olsen also urged residents to keep garbage areas clean, and, if a garbage container has been eaten into by squirrels, to call 311 to get it replaced.

He said it’s also important to clean up pet feces in the yard, because that can be a food source for rats, to cut down overgrown vegetation that they can hide in, and to clean up around bird feeders that also can provide a food source for rats.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Hard-to-find text on a city website FAQ page says: “Replacement carts are available for lost and damaged carts at no charge. Contact 311 or 847-448-4311 to order a replacement cart.”
      (Look under “Missed pickups” to find it.)
      — Bill

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