Baltimore County rat eradication program expands to three Towson-area neighborhoods

Baltimore County will expand a program to stamp out rats to 10 neighborhoods, including three in or near Towson. The move is scheduled to take place in July.

Officials have been touting as effective the rodent eradication program, which launched last summer as a pilot in 13 county neighborhoods. The expansion of the pilot program will include Loch Raven Village and Knettishall in Towson and neighboring Ridgeleigh in Parkville.

The pilot areas, with selection based on an analysis by code enforcement officials and community input, receive two, eight-week extermination treatments, increased garbage pickup and educational outreach on rat control tips, according to a county news release.

Officials say the program has succeeded in controlling rodent infestations in the 13 targeted communities at a cost of $261,000 for extermination and $853,000 for additional trash collections.

The expansion to the 10 neighborhoods is expected to cost $155,000 for extermination and $453,000 for additional trash collections. The added trash collections and maintenance-level extermination efforts will continue in the initial pilot areas as well.

“People shouldn’t have to live among rats and the feedback we’re getting is overwhelmingly positive that our enhanced comprehensive approach is working well in these targeted areas,” County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. “We are eager to move forward in these remaining communities and expect to have similar results.”

According to the county news release, code enforcement and public works representatives will collaborate with community groups to increase education and sponsor community cleanups to reduce trash and debris that can provide a food source and living space for rats.

“Code Enforcement reports that they have received markedly fewer complaints and have observed significantly less evidence of rat infestation in the treated areas,” Baltimore County spokeswoman said in an email. Though figures for those complaints were not immediately available, Kobler said feedback from the community has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

The expansion is welcome news to some residents.

Knettishall Community Association president Janice Krach said the small, compact neighborhood of mid-century townhomes often experiences rat problems.

“It takes a little bit of work and some people are oblivious to the whole thing,” she said. “It’s hard to solve all of the problems all at once, but it’s mainly education. If people would try to do a little better job we’d have a fighting chance.”

Bounded by Pleasant Plain Road and Loch Raven Boulevard to the west and east and Putty Hill Avenue and Loch Ness Road to the north and south, Knettishall borders Ridgeleigh to the west and is surrounded by Loch Raven Village to the south.

“It’s not our problem or their problem,” Krach said. “We’re all bordered by each other. We all have the same problems so everyone has to be educated.” Unlike efforts in Baltimore City, which has provided residents with trash receptacles with attached lids, county residents are responsible for providing their own trash bins.

Krach said despite using a hard plastic receptacle with a lid to keep out the rats, she has been unfortunate enough to have a personal experience with the pesky rodents. Once, while retrieving something from a detached shed she startled a rat who was hiding inside. It stumbled across her feet to run away. The experience is one she would not like to relive, she said.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents Towson, said the county’s decision to expand the program is “terrific news,” particularly in the Ridgeleigh neighborhood.

“Ridgeleigh is an older community that has experienced persistent rat problems,” Marks said in a Feb. 22 email. “At the request of the Ridgeleigh Community Association, I asked that this neighborhood be added to areas that were part of the initial pilot program, which was primarily focused on the eastside.”

Ridgeleigh Community Association president Bill Deysher said the news is a “welcome development.”

The Parkville community, bounded by Joppa Road and Putty Hill Avenue to the north and south and Loch Raven Boulevard and Oakleigh Road to the west and east, has experienced rodent problems caused by excessive trash and the dumping of large items, he said.

“We get a lot of complaints from residents periodically, so [the county does] a regular [extermination] which tamps them down, but then they come back,” Deysher said. “It’s good that this will be an ongoing thing.”

Other neighborhoods to be targeted will be Edmondson Heights and West Edmondale in western Baltimore County and the eastern county neighborhoods of Saint Helena, Yorkway/Cornwall, Country Ridge, Ballard Gardens and Foxcroft, according to the news release.

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