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CAC asks for rat study, control program

Daytime sightings convince commissioners Clintonville has a 'significant population' of rats

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One collective noun for a group of rats is a mischief, and Clintonville Area Commission members want to put an end to it in the neighborhood.

Increasing daytime sightings of rats in parts of Clintonville prompted members of the commission to unanimously pass a resolution last week that eventually could lead to the resurrection of a city program aimed at controlling the rodent population.

The $275,000-a-year Columbus Public Health program had never reached into Clintonville, but instead focused on Downtown, the Short North and the University District during its two years of existence.

Nevertheless, District 8 representative Kristopher Keller proposed, and his colleagues concurred, passing a resolution that requests Columbus officials undertake a study of the rat population to determine if there is a problem, and if so, to advise people how to "mitigate and control" that population, as well as consider bringing back the city program to tamp down the critters.

Keller raised the issue in early August, citing concerns from his constituents and distributing a flier urging people not to provide a food source for rats. It advised residents to be careful about bird feeders, to harvest vegetables in their gardens frequently and limit access to compost heaps.

Rats are naturally nocturnal animals, and the frequent reports of daytime sightings from residents to CAC members almost assuredly mean there is a "significant population," Keller said.

The CAC resolution says the presence of rats, "is a major risk to the health of a large urban community such as Columbus."

Piedmont Road resident David Mayhoor spoke in favor of the resolution, recounting the time he and his wife, Beth Abramovitz, watched a big rat stroll across their driveway. This prompted them to stop feeding birds altogether, remove a compost heap and clean out the garage -- only to see a repeat appearances by perhaps a different rat.

Mayhoor and Abramovitz hired a pest-control firm, and since have collected the bodies of four dead rats.

"We're glad you're taking this action," Mayhoor said.

The resolution will be sent to the mayor's office, Columbus Public Health, Code Enforcement and other Columbus area commissions.

If the requested study determines that, "the presence of rats in Columbus presents significant public health risks," the officials are asked to "initiate a rat-control program within the Columbus Department of Public Health and dedicate sufficient funds from the city's budget so that the program can operate effectively."

The vote in favor of the measure was 8-0, with District 2 representative Nancy Kuhel absent.

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