The Town of Stonington has a rat problem on its hands.
Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Susan Raff shows us what the town and residents are doing in order to be rat-free.
Eyewitness News learned that town leaders said the problem began at the home on Millan Terrance, where an elderly woman was feeding rats. She was eventually placed in a nursing home, but when she stopped feeding the rats, the rats started going to other homes.
"There was a tree over in their yard that's still standing with bird seed. She would buy 40 lbs. of bird seed and pour it out," describes neighbor William Carroll.
"She was feeding [them], even dog food bowls in the house. She was feeding them in the house."
Carroll said he was disturbed when he saw his neighbor feeding rats, and said soon after she moved out of the house, he said the rats started coming to his yard.
"I killed them myself. Saw them live during the day, troubling," described Carroll. "I have a 7 year old. No one wants to see that."
Carroll told Eyewitness News that he set out a few traps, but to really get rid of the rodents, the town had to exterminate them. The town's First Selectman Rob Simmons is so concerned with the problem, he made a video to show to properly dispose of dead rats.
"What you do is take a shovel, put it under the rat, and put the rat in a bag...," details the video.
"They go where the food and the water is, and if you provide food, water source or shelter, they will take advantage of it," Simmons said. He cautioned residents of the health risks rats pose.
"Rats can carry a number of diseases and that's one of the major issues we are working on with property owners [and] all the agencies in town," Ryan McCammon, of Ledge Light Health District, said.
Lawmakers are urging residents to not have bird feeders or leave food outside. McCammon said rats are also attracted to chicken and duck coops. But while Stonington may have gotten rid of rats in one neighborhood, they now have rats in the Pawcatuck section. Lawmakers and health officials have been canvassing neighbors in the Stonington and Pawcatuck urging residents to eliminate excess garbage, overgrowth along fountains, and standing water, and gutters.
Town leaders may change ordinances, especially for properties attracting rats, and they could decide that having chicken coops in residential neighborhoods is not desirable.
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