On a recent rainy Saturday, approximately 40 Ward 2 residents gathered at St. Paul’s Parish to attend the Ward 2 Rat Summit, sponsored by the DC DOH, along with the Foggy Bottom Assoc. and Council member Jack Evans.
Gerard Brown, Program Manager of the Bureau of Community Hygiene, Rodent and Vector Control Division of the DC Department of Health, coordinated the summit, along with the FBA. Those attending also heard from representatives of DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and Department of Public Works, as well as a ranger from the National Parks Service. But the highlight of the afternoon was a presentation by noted urban rodentologist Bobby Corrigan, PhD.
According to Corrigan, whom DOH’s Brown called the “Michael Jordan of rodent experts,” the key to rodent control is sanitation. “Sanitation IS rodent control,” said Corrigan at one point. He noted that those asking about the strongest rat poisons are asking the wrong question.
Corrigan shared the results of decades of research on rats, surprising his audience and, occasionally, eliciting squeals and groans. He pointed out that rats can climb significant heights in search of food. They can chew through just about anything – including metal – if given enough time. They eat pretty much everything, and only need about 1–1/2 ounces of food daily to thrive.
As a consultant to the DC Department of Health, Corrigan has visited Foggy Bottom and the West End and is familiar with the extent of our rat problem, which he characterized as “severe.” He offered the following advice.
- Keep the community as clean as possible.
- Do not provide food, water, or shelter for rats. Remember that a rat’s definition of food is much broader than a human’s is.
- Keep all trash and recycling in quality containers with tight-fitting lids. If you generate more trash than will fit in one container, get another one.
- Use a trash can liner and clean out your trash can itself (and your recycling bin) once a month. You can use a hose and water to wash out the trash can, and a 10 percent bleach solution to sanitize it.
It is up to every person to keep the rat population down, said Corrigan. “Even if nine households keep their yards perfectly clean, the rats will head directly to the 10th yard,” he added.
Homeowner or tenant, retiree or student, government worker or freelancer, long-time resident or brand-new neighbor, we are all in this together. Rat control is up to every one of us. And it starts with sanitation.
~ Marina Streznewski
President, Foggy Bottom Association
Thanks very much!