I am FOR people picking up after their dogs, scooping the poop on their own property and anywhere the dog deposits. However, the proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Carlos Rameriz-Rosa (35th ward) support fining people $50 to $500 for not picking up after their own dogs. The contention is that the rat poop is causing or contributing to the City’s burgeoning rat population.
So, with all that’s going on in Chicago, police are suppose to investigate people’s yards?
The basic premise is simply wrong.
Rats are not picky eaters, but dog feces is near the bottom of the list. Rats much prefer eating berries (various trees that drop them in the Spring and Summer); left-over food found in trash – homeowners’ trash and especially restaurants; rats will hunt and eat baby bunny rabbits and even young rats are on the menu.
Rats relish bird seed, dog poop isn’t a preferred menu item
By the same theory – leaving bird seed outside ought to be illegal, since the truth is that rats FAR prefer eating seeds over dog poop.
Let’s say that every piece of dog poop was instantly picked up and even unavailable to rats in the trash. Would that affect the rat population at all?
The answer is decidedly NO!
Clearly the city have not spoken to any rat experts about their proposal. The idea that picking up in backyards makes sense, and does remove a potential food source. However, without dog poop rats do just fine.
The City has cut back greatly on their rat abatement program
The City has cut back on spending for what was once a serious rat abatement program. Given financial realities, the rat numbers can still be affected if:
– Homeowners find rat holes and fill them in persistently.
– Wood piles (where rats live) are either used (the human presence alone deters rats) or are dismantled.
– Bird houses are hard for rats to get to, found on poles and have trays which rats can’t get to.
– Metal garbage lids are effective; rats don’t have thumbs. Rats do easily chew through most current plastic lids, even if there are any lids at all on trash cans.
– Cover openings into homes to keep rats out.
– Hope for frigid and snowy winters which may impact rat numbers in the Spring (although they are able to rebound their numbers pretty fast).
I mean we’re talking about an animal that will even eat and digest sticks (though they can’t survive on sticks alone).
One means to control control rats hasn’t changed in thousands of years: Cats.
Where there are cats, the rats either re-locate or the baby rats are honestly eaten.
When cats move in, rats move out
Tree House Humane Society offers a program called The Cats At Work Project to re-locate community or feral cat colonies to places where rats are a problem. So far, the idea has worked….which shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, rats don’t enjoy being eaten.
Currently homeowners depend on poisons to control rats. Indeed that can work (particularly when professional exterminators are involved), but savvy rats sometimes learn to avoid the bait. Also dogs and children can get into rat poison, which also gets into the environment.
Again, I am not defending people who don’t pick up – even in their own yards. However, this ordinance won’t impact rat numbers one bit. And laws which really can’t be enforced make so sense to me. It’s even insulting that the City is expecting our City’s finest to be dog poop police, and spend their valuable time asking homeowners – presumably otherwise good citizens – to pick up or else pay up.