WYCKOFF, NJ — Rats, rats everywhere — a rodent infestation is spreading to neighboring properties in the area of Wood and Harding Streets in Wyckoff, several residents complained at Tuesday’s township committee meeting.
“I have had high activity in my rat traps,” one Wood Street resident said.
Another resident said that, just a few weeks ago, she saw her cat chasing a rat that was roughly the size of a squirrel, and since then, she has seen several more rats scurrying outside her home.
“It was one of the biggest rats I have ever seen in my life,” she said. “(The rats) are everywhere, even in broad daylight. The town needs to step in and do something.”
Mayor Rudolf E. Boonstra assured residents that he and Board of Health President, Dr. Steven Clarke, are looking into how to solve the problem and said he is not going to give up on it. He said that he was “on site” near Shadyside Drive and Colonial Drive the morning of the committee meeting, and that he expected to be in the area of Wood and Harding Streets on Thursday.
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“The township is aware, and we will try to coordinate to fix the problem,” Boonstra said, adding that he will continue to speak with neighbors to collect information on how to address the issue.
Boonstra noted, however, that the township can only do so much at this point in time, and encouraged homeowners to speak with a pest control operator on how to deal with the issue in a way that is best for their properties.
“Maybe we could look at drainage areas or culverts as the problem,” he said. “But as far as going into someone’s home, that is left to the property owner.”
But one resident said that, despite the best efforts of an individual homeowner, if neighbors are not engaged, then pest control will not yield as much success in stopping the surge.
“Some neighbors are more proactive than others,” she said.
The problem started to appear, residents said, after an intense storm rolled through last October, with one stating that she caught 14 rats just a few days afterward.
“We have never had rats like this before,” she said.
One possible source for the persisting problem was ruled out, though — the J.A. McFaul Environmental Center.
“We are confident that it is not coming from the environmental center,” Boonstra said.
In fact, the environmental center utilizes pest control services every two weeks, township administrator Matthew Cavallo said at the meeting, and a recent inspection does not indicate that the facility is the source of the infestation.
Another possible source that was discussed was the sewers.
Cavallo said that, regardless of the whereabouts of the source, rats multiply very quickly, and encouraged residents to contact Bergen County Consumer Health at 201-634-2730 to report sightings. He added that rodents are not “rabies reservoirs,’ and that infection from rat bites are “low risk.” Still, if bitten, he said, see an ER doctor.
“We hear you,” Boonstra said in conclusion, “and we are working to address the issue.”