Rats! DC Mayor Announces Steps to Control Rat Problem After Complaints Up 65%

Rats are nothing new to the D.C. area. You've probably seen more than a few of the rodents roaming the streets in the summer sniffing for food.

But new data from the D.C. government shows the city's rat problem is on the rise. Rat complaints have jumped 65 percent in D.C., from 2,300 complaints in 2015 to 3,500 complaints in 2016.

Residents Janet Shenk and Stephen Albrecht say the rat population has exploded in an alley near their Northwest home.

"This is where the rats feast, among other places, and...I've never seen it cleaned," Shenk said of a dumpster in the alley.

Shenk's small, but landscaped yard has been infested with rats.

"We can put all the bait boxes we want, we're told, but they don't do anything because the rats prefer restaurant food," she said.

D.C. Mayor Bowser vowed Thursday to step up sanitation and rat enforcement citywide.

Through the summer, the city is offering commercial companies grants up to $13,500 to buy better rat-resistent trash equipment, such as trash compactors.

Hundreds of "smart" trash cans installed throughout the city also use censors to notify city maintenance when trash cans are full.

But Shenk believes tougher enforcement of the rules is key to curbing the rat problem.

"There's just been no enforcement of the regulations that do exist," Shenk said.

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