Greener Guidance: Municipal Rodent Control

Note: This is the third edition of NACCHO’s new Greener Guidance environmental health advice column. Learn more here. Submit a question here.

October 2018

Dear Greener Guidance,

Our city has a rat problem, and despite our best efforts it’s not getting any better. What are some new and innovative solutions we can try?

– Reining in the Rats

Dear Reining in the Rats,

The key is focusing on human behavior, not on the rats, according to Dr. Claudia Riegel, director of the City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board. The best way to eliminate rodents is eliminating the availability of the food that feeds them, which most often comes from the trash of individuals, restaurants, and other businesses.

While keeping the city clean sounds simple, says Dr. Riegel, changing human behavior is quite the opposite. To see a real reduction in rodent activity, everyone needs to take responsibility and do their part; the government must work collaboratively with citizens and businesses to see a change.

An example of collaborating to keep the city clean is the CleanUpNOLA initiative recently announced by New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell. reported that Mayor Cantrell said the city has “a rodent infestation problem” that “we can take control of” through the team-oriented approach of CleanUpNOLA.

Gerard Brown, program manager for rodent and vector control at the DC Department of Health (DC Health), agrees with the focus on sanitation: “Using dumpsters properly is important. Remember, sanitation is the single most important factor for rodent control. Keep dumpster areas clean!”

DC Health offers rodent control tips for residents and business owners so everyone can work together toward a cleaner city.

As part of that effort, DC Department of Small and Local Business Development, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Clean City, is seeking grant applications for demonstration projects that help DC businesses install commercial waste compactors, which reduce sanitation and rodent issues in commercial areas.

NACCHO supports local health departments in rodent control work, and both New Orleans and Washington, DC were included in NACCHO’s 2015 assessment on local rodent control programs. A research brief and case studies summarizing each of the nine jurisdictions’ programs are available here.

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