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Rats remain problem in Green Bay

By John McCracken

GREEN BAY – As the Green Bay Packers look to climb the NFC North Division rankings, another ruthless offense is making its way to the top of an unsavory list – rats.

Atlanta-based pest control company Orkin released its 2020 Top Rattiest Cities report and Green Bay climbed 18 positions to number 40.

The list is based on new rodent treatments in the past year performed by the private company, including residential and commercial.

Ninety-eight rat complaints were received by the city in the summer of 2018.

That number decreased to 77 the next summer, and Bill Paape, Green Bay housing and zoning enforcement coordinator, said from January through September rat complaints only amounted to 43, with four cases still pending.

Green Bay has a robust rodent history, with the county board’s approval of an unbudgeted $5,000 worth of rat traps handed out to residents in affected areas in 2018.

Those traps are now housed in the archives of the Neville Public Museum.

Museum director Beth Lemke said approximately 250 traps are still at the museum as of October, down from a reported 650 in February of this year.

The root of the rodent problem is hard to pin down.

Differing accounts have suggested the city’s increased development in the past years, including Packers-owned land and a now razed K-Mart building, caused the influx.

“It’s impossible to pinpoint them to one particular source,” Paape said.

West side District 7 Alderperson Randy Scannell suggested the west side’s abundance of boats and ports as a cause.

He said he also wouldn’t be surprised if Titletown’s expansion caused an influx of critters.

“A major development disturbs their habitat and they start scurrying around,” Scannell said.

Others aren’t so sure if the Pack is to blame for more rats.

“I find it hard to believe that if the Packers had a rat issue in the Titletown District, they would not be working to fully resolve that, “ said Ashwaubenon Public Safety Captain Bill Amenson, who has not seen a large increase in rodent complaints during his 18 years at the village.

This year, Tyler Zilles, owner of TitleTown Lawn & Pest Pros, has received numerous rodent calls on the West Side of Green Bay.

Zilles has heard numerous people talk about Titletown District as a source of the problem, but said it’s infeasible to locate the origin.

“Throughout time, rodents have grown with civilization,” he said, “As Green Bay grows with more people, more development, more businesses, it seems like a natural thing.”

Paape said he hopes COVID-19 has raised consciousness of sanitation practices and residents continue to keep their homes and waste clean.

“The most effective tool is education,” he said.

Given rats’ predisposition to carry disease, the CDC issued guidelines to deal with rodents amongst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increased time at home and restaurant closures could lead to “aggressive” behavior from rats as they hunt for food sources.

“I don’t think it’s a fully solvable problem,” Zilles said.

He said officials are doing the best they can with restrained budgets.

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