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Evergreen moves swiftly to eliminate rats

Mayor claims problem has been cleared up

By Laura Bollin

The mayor of Evergreen Park stressed last week that residents and village employees must work together to alleviate a rat problem he called “unusual,” and that on Monday said has been remedied.

Jim Sexton spoke to the issue July 16 at an Evergreen Park Village Board meeting at which Evergreen resident Kim Lenza told village officials that she and her neighbor, Patricia Coci, have caught nine rats over in the past two weeks. Lenza has lived in the 9300 block of Spaulding for 10 years, she said.

“They burrow from her yard into my yard,” Lenza said of the rats. “We caught them in our own traps. We were told to double bag them and put them in our garbage cans, and it smelled so bad. The neighbors across the street saw two rats in the last week, so I bet you they are everywhere.”

Lenza wrote a letter to her fellow neighbors asking for their support at last week’s Village Board meeting, and about 20 residents answered the call.

An Evergreen Park public works employee alerted Coci to the problem when he told her a rat had possibly chewed through her garbage can.

“We found the rats, but we never saw them,” Coci said. She noted that while she and her neighbors never saw live rats running around their yards, they did find rats in the traps they had set.

“We were told to look for burrows,” Coci said. “Animal control has been wonderful, and they came out and baited, but we feel more needs to be done. Now they are popping up in other places, like in neighbors’ yards across the street.”

Coci joked that she would like a “pied piper” to drive the rats out of town. Neighbors of hers have caught rats in the 9300 block of Spaulding Avenue, the 9300 and 9400 blocks of Turner Avenue, and the 9300 block of Sawyer Avenue, she claimed.

“We want to know what is being done beyond treating single incidents,” Lenza told the board. Sexton called the problem “unusual.”

“We have an exterminator out two times a week,” Sexton said. “Things like this have happened before. It is not an issue in all of Evergreen, but it is an issue on your block. There is a reason they go to a yard — a food source, or an unkempt garage or yard.”

Both Lenza and Coci told Sexton they have “immaculate” yards, to which the mayor responded that it is possible neighbors of their have unkempt yards or may be feeding birds.

“A lot of times when we go to these areas, we find dilapidated sheds or garages, or people who are feeding animals,” Sexton said Monday. “If rodents have a food or water source, they will be able to stay anywhere. It can even be someone’s garden.”

Lenza is worried about her children and pets being outside because of the large rat traps and the presence of poison. Village inspectors were scheduled to visit the affected area on Spaulding last week to treat yards where rats have been found.

“We will find out where the rats are coming from and the reason why they are there,” Sexton said. “They didn’t just show up because they liked your block.”

Sexton said the village has used a private contractor — Anderson Pest Control — for the last 10 years.

“This is not a systemic problem in Evergreen,” Sexton said. “It affected about four or five yards, and we were out there for two days, and the problem has been cleared up.”

The exterminator has told Sexton last winter’s mild weather has contributed to the rat problem, the mayor said.

“The warm weather throughout the winter led to extra breeding cycles, so we will see more rodents and raccoons,” he added.