Columbus Launches Effort To Reduce Clintonville Health Hazard
Columbus city officials say they need resident help to reduce the rat population in Clintonville. A city survey of neighborhood properties shows evidence of a large population of the rodents that's making residents anxious. On city sidewalks in Clintonville, rats have become a topic of conversation. "I've heard that there's some rather large critters roaming around the city, invading our trash and such, yeah, yeah," says Alex Smith. Smith has lived in Clintonville for ten years. He's not seen any rats on his property but he welcomes city and neighborhood efforts to reduce the rat populatioin. "You know it's a nice neighborhood, people don't want that sort of thing in their neighborhood," says Smith. "You know, it's like cockroaches or some such. People associate that with a lower quality of life." Columbus Department of Health spokesman, Jose Rodriquez, says rat complaints were first brought to the city's attention last September. The city responded by surveying 885 Clintonville properties for evidence of rats. One-third of residences surveyed showed signs of rat activity. "In this case we don't know where the rats came from," says Rodriquez. But, there's little doubt the popular north side neighborhood has a rat problem. The Centers for Disease Control says rat activity in Clintonville is overwhelming. "CDC will tell us that about, if two percent of the properties or more have evidence of rat activity then we should be doing something about it. So, having a 34% tells us that we clearly, there is an issue to look at in the region," says Rodriquez. The city is issuing fliers advising residents to pick up pet waste, limit spreading bird seed, and cover garbage and compost heaps. Repeat offenders face possible prosecution in environmental court. Some residents report rats are burrowing underneath compost piles. Katlyn Brogan says she's never seen a rat even though compost piles are common on her block. "Clintonville's big on compost and recycling so yeah, there's definitely a lot," says Brogan. Smith adds squirrels are a bigger nuisance than rats on his propoerty. But, he says something must be done to curb the rat population before more serious complaints surface. "If it starts getting to be a problem where folks are, you know, there's more reports of like children getting bit, things like that, yeah, it's definitely time to take some action," says Smith. While Brogan is walking to get some lunch. She expresses surprise about the results of the city's rat survey. She says she's uncertain what she'd do if she saw one. "Other than scream, I don't really know what I'd do," says Brogan, "Probably just run inside and hope it didn't follow me." The city recently hired two rat patrol enforcement officers. They will now survey Harrison West and Linden neighborhoods for signs of rats.