FOX 11 Investigates: How government plans to attack rat problem

A rat is seen on a trail camera in Green Bay. (WLUK)

(GREEN BAY) -- The battle is on as local leaders are drawing up their game plan to tackle Green Bay's rat problem.

“They come out at night so you don't really see them,” said Jim Ridderbush, president of Marquette Park Neighborhood Association.

He’s lived in the neighborhood for 42 years.

When asked if he had seen a rat in the neighborhood before last year he replied, “Nope, never.”

When he heard about the rat problem last summer he decided to set some traps.

“Lo and behold, I caught three rats within two hours,” he said.

Within days he had caught 15 rats.

“They're nasty,” Ridderbush said of the rodents.

FOX 11 Investigates highlighted the problem in November. We set up trail cameras to catch rats in their element, at night.

“It's something we've been dealing with for some time. This isn't a new problem,” said Bill Paape who oversees the inspection department for the city of Green Bay.

He says since it's winter, people may not see as many signs of rats. But he says they are still around.

“They're kind of more tucked into their burrows and they're eating their food caches and stuff,” Paape said.

“You don't see as many but rats don't hibernate,” said Brown County supervisor Bernie Erickson, who says he is still getting complaints about the rodents.

“I had one gal that's gone through three large containers of poison already just this winter in the last six weeks or so. So, she's really got an issue,” Erickson said.

Last year, Erickson led an effort at the county board to get $5,000 in funding to deal with the rat problem. The city set aside another $5,000. FOX 11 Investigates wanted to know how the government planned to spend your tax dollars.

“I think the most appropriate plan of attack is to focus on education and then when necessary, enforcement,” Paape said.

He the city contacted other cities with rat issues for guidance.

“It's not just the rats, it's bigger than that,” Paape said. “We need to look at the other causes of why they're there. Why they continue to thrive in a particular area.”

Paape says things like improper storage of garbage and litter provide food for rodents. He showed FOX 11 Investigates pictures inspectors have taken this winter.

“We want to focus on what is the root problem,” he said.

Click here to view a brochure from the City of Green Bay regarding rodent pest management.

Paape says he would like to use the $5,000 the city council set aside, plus an additional $7,500 in Neighborhood Enhancement Funds to hire a part-time inspector to work specifically on the issue.

“I want to be smart with the taxpayers' money. I want to focus on getting results and not just temporary solution or a temporary fix,” Paape said.

Meanwhile, at the county level, Erickson says the $5,000 will be used to buy rat traps which will be handed out by neighborhood associations. Erickson says he expects to get started on the trapping program this spring.

“Depending on the weather in March we could get started as early as possibly mid-March. It might be closer to April 1st by the time everything really gets in place. But we'll have all the traps and all the workers in place,” Erickson said.

Paape says he prefers to focus on education and prevention.

“Personally, I think traps, I know the intent of it, the meaning behind it is good. But I don't think that's a sustainable, long-term solution,” Paape said.

When asked what he would say to people who don't think the city has done enough about the rat issue, Paape replied, “We've been working behind the scenes. This isn't something that we go around advertising.

“We're in the neighborhoods trying to do our part to clean it up but we need help. We need buy in. We need everybody,” he added.

Ridderbush says he knows the rats won't completely disappear, but he hopes the one-two punch of traps and education will make a dent in the rat population.

“You're never going to eliminate it but you can minimize it,” Ridderbush said.

Both the city council and the Redevelopment Authority for the city of Green Bay will need to approve the additional money for that part-time inspector. That could happen next month. Paape says he is hoping to have the inspector in place in June.

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