Eugene city council discusses rat problem

Councilors discussed a potential new ordinance that could prevent people from feeding wildlife.

Posted: Feb 28, 2018 5:39 PM
Updated: Feb 28, 2018 5:41 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene's City council discussed how to deal with the city's growing rat and turkey problem at a work session Wednesday. 

At the meeting, council members listened to presentations from city staff members, public works, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. They talked about the growing problem and how they plan to address it. 

"So I think the rat issue has been growing in our community," Lindsay Selser, communications analyst for the City of Eugene said. "It's exacerbated to similar reasons to the turkeys, people are feeding or unknowingly feeding and providing food and shelter for these rats. They breed really quickly and rapidly so it just keeps building on itself."

She said the rat problem is a nuisance in the city and they are trying to track and eliminate them. She said both rats and turkeys can become a health hazard and can cause property damage. 

City officials said urban farming could be contributing to the overall problem, with chicken feed attracting more rats and turkeys. They said people who leave food out for cats, deer, or other wild animals are contributing to the problem.

To deal with the rats, public works officials said they currently bait the sewer lines with rat poison when requested. 

Selser said to address the problem, they want to focus on educating people on the issue and how they can change their daily habits to help alleviate the problem.

"We think that will be part of the solution to the problem, as long as people can be aware that their actions could be creating a problem, we think they would then be able to choose to change their behavior," Selser said.

At the work session, councilors voted to have city staff create an ordinance that would ban people from feeding wildlife. They want to focus the ordinance on items that can attract rats and turkeys, and don't want to prevent people from feeding birds. They will continue the discussion at their next work session.

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