Now that warmer springtime weather has more residents out in their yards, city officials say complaints about rats are on the rise in Evanston — although not beyond levels typically seen in other years.
Carl Caneva, the city’s assistant health director, says the city now has 70 open requests for service — higher than in the winter — but less than during the summer — when there can be as many as 100 active cases.
Not only are people out more — but rats are more active — burrowing to create new homes for themselves.
Caneva says the city tries to get out in front of rat problems by mapping the areas where complaints have come from in the past and sending inspectors down alleys in those neighborhoods. “We want to make sure that garbage is well secured, and garages are in good condition — with no large holes where rodents could find a way inside,” Caneva says.
Caneva says residents can make their property less attractive to rats by not putting out food for pets or birds and not providing water sources. Even cleaning up after pets is important — rats are omnivores, Caneva said, they’ll eat anything to survive. More rat control advice is available on the city’s website.
Residents can report rat complaints to the city’s 311 service.
Once complaints come in, Caneva says, the city works with a private contractor to go out weekly and place bait stations on private property and in the alleys.
To do any work on private property, the city needs a signed release form from the property owner. The rat control service is provided at no charge to residential properties.
Caneva says city inspectors try to make sure residents with rat problems are educated about how to improve conditions on their property to get rid of rats, but in the event of non-compliance it does have an enforcement process and can issue citations, which, if they aren’t responded to, can lead to hearings in the city’s administrative adjudication process where fines can be issued.