In the following graph of 311 data from Chicago, you'll find one example of what we found. A dip in the number of rodent calls can be seen during both January 2011 and January 2012. This is normal. Rats do not hibernate, but they do tend to die off during the winter months when it is more difficult to find food. The usual moderate increase in rat sightings from April to September 2011 can also be seen. In 2012, however, a rather dramatic increase occurs during the same time period.
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The chart below shows a similarly higher spike in calls reporting rodents in Somerville to 311 this summer as compared to summer 2011. The City has received roughly 52% more rodent reports to 311 in 2012 compared to 2011.
and deploying our rodent control resources accordingly. The following is a real-time map of rodent calls to Somerville's 311 line. Having 311 data has allowed us to focus on problem areas, which has put Somerville at an advantage compared to cities that do not have such data. In addition to responding to resident reports, the Inspectional Services Department has been working with SomerStat to identify locations in the city where extermination and baiting efforts are most needed—before the calls come in. (Please note: Zoom in and out of the map to see more call locations.)
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As a result, the City has significantly increased baiting efforts. To support this expanded program, the budget for rodent baiting was increased by 68% from $57,000 to $83,574 from FY2012 to FY2013. But baiting is not the only solution.
Inspectional Services, the Health Department, and the Department of Public Works continue to work closely to enforce pest management requirements (including baiting) for area food establishments, to enforce the trash ordinance for all residents and businesses, and to find best practices for controlling the rodent population. Currently, a new neighborhood-based pilot program for rodent control is being tested (more details to come on this at the fall ResiStat meetings).
Meanwhile, the public is key. To better understand how to avoid providing food and shelter to rodents, please see the new rodent page on the City website for information on what you and your neighbors can do.