Rat complaints are up 30 percent across Chicago, and the city has put its dry ice program to combat them on hold.
The number of rat complaints has increased to 9207 between Nov. 2016 and Feb. 2017 - a major spike from the 7082 complaints recorded over the same period the year before, according the city's Department of Streets and Sanitation.
Officials believe that ramped-up outreach, including a new poster may be contributing to the increase in calls. The flier has a more realistic photo of a rat, as well as common sense tips to battle “rodent activity” – and a request for residents to report it to 311.
Last year, the city also launched a pilot program in three parks, using dry ice in burrows to suffocate rats from the carbon dioxide.
North Side residents who live near one of the parks said the effort was effective, and brought relief to those who were particularly troubled by the pests.
“I literally start to squirm and do a little do dance,” said Lake View resident Lisa Ancilleri. “I hate them.”
“I think a lot of major cities have problem with rats, not just Chicago - but Chicago is a pretty dirty city,” said Dora McFadden.
Officials were planning on expanding the program this spring, however, it’s now on hold pending approval with the EPA and Department of Public Health.
Despite the hold-up, the city said it has also added 10 additional rat-fighting crews and the response time has dropped from 10 days to five.