Chicago cracking down on rats after population boom

The city is pulling out all the stops to crack down on rodents.

The offensive comes after a major rat population boom. A warm winter and construction projects have helped fuel the outbreak.

So now, city officials have come up with a new, and old approach, to cracking down.

The number of complaints into city telephones about rats appears to be down this year over last. But that isn't stopping the city from trying to do something about the problem.

It’s an old fight with new solutions.

Chicagoans have long complained about the city's rat infestation, and some people even have innovative ideas when it comes to dealing with them.

“My friend, apparently they unleashed a bunch of these renegade cats to hunt down these rats in the neighborhood,” said Eric Erpelo.

And the city of Chicago is thinking of new ways to deal with them as well.

At a garbage transfer site on the southwest side, the streets and sanitation department is using 25 small white boxes, called Contrapest, in a test run.

The traps will sit for the next 6 months, inviting rats to feed of the contents inside. And as they as they do, they become infertile and unable to produce offspring.

“Using this product, we're hoping, will reduce the ability of rodents to reproduce by as much as 40 percent,” said Commish Williams.

But that isn't the only tool they'll be using.

The program was shuttered last year after condemnation by animal rights groups, but a new green light. The federal government approves of the city's dry ice program, trapping and killing the rodents in their borrows using the gas the ice omits.

“The mayor demands that we control the rodent population within our city and this is another tool in the tool box to help us do that,” Williams said.

The commissioner says Contrapest has also been used in the New York City subway system to some success. They will evaluate the program’s effectiveness in January to determine if it will continue.