County neighborhoods may get help with rat problem

By Derrell Reid
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer

The Baltimore County Council will consider a bill next week that is designed to help residents in nine county neighborhoods get rid of rat populations that have infested their homes and yards for more than a year.

The neighborhoods that would be affect by the expanded rat eradication program are Berkshire, Colgate, Eastwood, Hawthrone, Hillendale, Holland Hills, Middlesex, Riverview, and West Inverness.

Lionel van Dommelen, the county’s code enforcement chief, told the council at a work session Tuesday that the plan calls for two pest control services to work closely with local government officials and residents of the neighborhoods to educate them on how and when rat extermination services will be rendered.

“Contractors will be meeting with community groups ahead of and during treatment periods,” van Dommelen said. “They will also be hanging information on doors, knocking on doors, and making a [bigger] effort to enter properties that were inaccessible in the past.”

The Core Group, a coalition of county residents who have been seeking help with their rat problem, have called on the council to approve two contracts that would provide on-call pest control services.

County officials told the council Tuesday that the initial eight-week contracts with Regional Pest Management, Inc., and the Home Paramount Pest Control Co. – which went into effect in April and were capped at $25,000 – had not achieved the county’s goal to reduce the rat population in the nine neighborhoods and that the contracts needed to be extended beyond June 30 so that the rat problem can be properly resolved.

Under the bill, the county would extend the current eight-week contract it has with the two pest control companies to April 2, 2018. The bill would also allow for automatic one-year renewals of the contracts for up to five years to help ensure that the rat populations are significantly reduced or eradicated. It also gives the county the option to further extend the initial term or any renewal term an additional 120 days.

The bill does not specify how much it will cost throughout this period to kill the rats because, the legislation says, the pest control process is too unpredictable to estimate a total price tag in advance. However, county documents indicate that a single, eight-week treatment could cost $99,000.

Regional Pest Management uses the most updated technology, van Dommelan said. He said pest control crews will use hand scanners to monitor the rat activity.

Van Dommelan said each property treated would be discretely marked will bar codes. He said the companies will also use bate boxes for difficult areas to reach, such as under sheds, to eradicate the rat population.

Everything the technician does will be uploaded and scanned and available for the administration to be able to monitor the rat activity, van Dommelan said.

“The treatment in other communities will go on as it has,” van Dommelan said. “There will be no change there. Total sweeps and rat treatment will continue in other communities just as it has before. We will continue to maintain that regular schedule in addition to this pilot.”

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