Baltimore County Now
Lionel van Dommelen
Chief, Baltimore County Code Enforcement Division
It’s not often that you hear the words “rats” and “good news” in the same sentence. But, I am pleased to report that through a combined effort of collaborative community education and old-fashioned rat remediation, we are seeing significant progress against rodent infestation in neighborhoods of the County where this has been an ongoing problem.
Rats deserve their bad reputation. They are sneaky, dirty, disease-carrying creatures that feed on garbage, pet waste, old pet food and burrow under homes, sheds, wood piles and debris. The rat was blamed for the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 14th century Europe. In fact, the blame should fall more on the Europeans since the normal practice back then was to simply throw waste into the street, attracting rats and their fleas that spread the “Black Death.”
In the Code Enforcement Division, our job is to protect the health, safety and appearance of our Baltimore County neighborhoods. Our Rat Attack program has been a priority of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz’s administration and of the County Council, with leadership from 7th District Councilman John Olszewski, Sr. In late 2011, at his request, the County Council authorized up to $750,000 over five years in a concentrated effort to control the growing rat population in specific areas around the County with documented rodent problems. Since last April, we have achieved quantifiable and reproducible results – fewer rat sightings, good inspection reports and plenty of new rodent-proof trash containers set out on trash day.
Even in modern times, human behavior is the biggest factor that allows rats to grow, thrive and multiply. We ask our residents to eliminate food sources and burrowing opportunities:
- handle and store trash properly by using and maintaining rodent resistant trash containers
- raise sheds and firewood piles off the ground
- remove junk and debris piles
- regularly pick up and properly dispose of pet waste
- clean up pet food and birdseed