By Paula Katinas
Bensonhurst — You want to get rid of rodents? Try putting a lid of your garbage cans!
That’s the message from frustrated Community Board 11 officials, who said homeowners aren’t cooperating with the city’s effort to eradicate a persistent rodent problem in the section of Bensonhurst that borders the elevated tracks of the D train on New Utrecht Avenue between 77th and 79th streets. Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said she has tried dealing with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of Health over the rodent infestation of homes near the el.
The area has been baited, according to Elias-Pavia, who said she has also conducted several on-site inspections of the area, accompanied by exterminators and rodent abatement specialists from the Dept. of Health, over the past three months.
The rat problem began in mid-2011 when the MTA started a repair project to fix the stanchions that hold up the el. The rats’ nests were disturbed by the construction work and the rodents scurried to other areas, including the basements of people living near the el, Elias-Pavia said.
While the city is doing what it can to solve the problem, “there are still some problematic issues,” Elias-Pavia said.
The subject of rodents and how to get rid of them was a topic of discussion at the Board 11 meeting on Feb. 9.
Ironically, local residents who have been complaining for months about the rats might be one of the biggest impediments, according to both Elias-Pavia and Board Chairman Bill Guarinello.
“The public really needs to be educated,” Guarinello said.
Residents often leave plastic trash bags filled with food debris on the sidewalk, Elias-Pavia said.
“The rodents eat right through the bags. If we remove the food, we remove the rodents,” she said.
“You need to invest in metal cans,” Guarinello said.
With help from Councilman Vincent Gentile, who gave the board a grant, Elias-Pavia mailed information packets to homeowners. A total of 1,600 packets were mailed out.
“While our office is working with multiple city agencies and elected officials to address this issue, we need your help,” the cover letter begins.
The tips include: 1) Do not place garbage bags on the street unless it is the evening before, or the day of, the scheduled trash collection day; and 2) Place lids on all trash cans.
The packet also includes this piece of information: Rats like to build nests and burrows in the earth and prefer to travel in the same paths repeatedly. Homeowners should keep the landscaped areas on the property free of tall weeds, according to the information packet. Shrubs that are close to the ground should be trimmed, the packet says.
Rats often use building foundation walls, fences, and bushes to find their way. In the information packet, there is a suggestion that homeowners inspect their foundations and the sidewalk looking for holes. If there are holes, they should be filled in and sealed.
“Rats need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. To defeat them, we must cut off their access to food, water, and shelter,” Elias-Pavia said.
Here are two more facts about rats: They can squeeze through a hole as small as a quarter of an inch in diameter. And female rats can produce 39 baby rats a year.