Councilors Seek More Education on Rodent Issues

By Adam Swift

Winthrop residents aren’t immune to the scourge of rats and other pests that have plagued other cities and towns in the Greater Boston area.

At Tuesday night’s Town Council meeting, Town Manager Tony Marino asked the council to authorize $15,000 for the town’s inspectional services department to use for rat baiting and other pest control measures in the town.

Several councilors suggested that the town needs to take a closer look at educational efforts to help curb the rat and pest problem.

“We need a little bit more information on how they are using that money and how we are sort of replenishing that line item almost what seems like twice a year,” said Precinct 6 Councilor Stephen Ruggerio. “I’ve advocated for this in the past, and I’ll ask for it again, but I really think the education piece is almost just as important as the baiting. If we are doing the baiting, we already might have a problem, it already might be too late.”

Preventing the presence of rodents might be a route the inspectional services and solid waste departments could take by providing informational guides to residents, Ruggeiro added.

“I know that in years past, I have been contacted by constituents who have had some of these issues and ask what is the town going to do for me,” he said. “I pointed out, well, you might want to get rid of that bird feeder in your front yard. I’m not an expert, but it might be good to have some of our experts put together something like that so there is an educational piece.”

Councilor-at-Large Tracey Honan said she agreed with Ruggeiro when it comes to improving education in regards to rodent control.

“Spring is approaching, more compost, more planting, more birdseed, as well as more people are outside eating, disposing in public bins and there is a need for a more preventative approach to rodent control,” Honan said. “I was a health inspector for eight years with two different municipalities and our focus was on prevention, because prevention might cost more up front, but in the long run you are teaching your municipal staff how to deal with rodents before they are a problem and before we just keep baiting and baiting.”

Another issue the town might want to address when it comes to rodents is the effect that next generation rodenticide has on the raptor and bird population, Honan said.

“If our rodents are eating these, and then our raptors are eating the rats or mice, our raptors are dying,” said Honan. “That’s important, especially with Belle Isle and Deer Island we’re seeing a regeneration of our raptor populations. People have seen owls and bald eagles and brown eagles around Winthrop, which is amazing, but rodenticides can quickly take those out.”

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