Complaints about rats in Chicago skyrocket

FOX 32 NEWS - They are popping up everywhere: complaints about rodents in Chicago are causing city crews to find ways to answer the call, and sanitation crews are reverting to an old method in the fight.

The rats are nothing new in Chicago, but the fight over how to control them is. As complaints about the rodents are on the rise, city officials are considering moving back to a controversial method of control: dry ice.

The battle waged between the residents and staff at a west side halfway house and the rats from an alley next door has been ongoing for years.

It’s a problem facilities manager Tim Hicks has dealt with for years.

“Right now it's starting to get hot outside, and the food and the trash - they're going to start getting real active,” said Hicks.

Citywide, streets and sanitation crews have gotten about 30 percent more calls about rats between November last year and February of this year, and sanitation commissioner Charles Williams says that's a good thing.

“We want the public to call us if you see rodents,” Williams said.

Part of the reason why people are calling is a poster encouraging them to do so. Crews will not know how to dedicate resources toward fighting the problem unless they are told where to go.

Street crews number more than two dozen.

“We're going to keep this problem under control. You can't eradicate rodents. What you can do is control the rodent population and that's what we do,” Williams said.

And that will keep happening, Williams says, even without the now defunct practice of using dry-ice to suffocate the rodents.

Decried by animal rights group PETA, and eventually shut down, Williams says the uptick in complaints is unrelated.

“Even if we were still using dry ice, you can't use dry ice everywhere,” Williams said.

And as city crews work to control the problem, residents adapt to their annoying neighbors.

The streets and sanitation department is in talks with the state's health department and EPA to get approval to use the dry ice method again.

In response, PETA said they'd much rather see the city focus on non-lethal methods like disposing of trash and securing garbage receptacles.

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