More than six weeks after Baldwinites complained of a rat infestation near Lofts Pond, residents and officials say the problem seems to have subsided. “There has been a marked improvement,” resident Ellen Presotto, who previously complained of seeing rats for months near her house, said. “Still see random ones on occasion, but not nearly as many as a few weeks ago.”
According to a letter from Eileen Krieb, commissioner of the county’s parks, recreation and museums, an exterminator has placed traps near the pond and will visit the site twice a week to reload them. Parks crews have also been asked to empty garbage cans more often and line them with plastic bags, according to the letter, which was sent to state Assemblyman Brian Curran, a Lynbrook Republican.
Krieb also said the county is waiting on a permit to remove overgrowth near Lofts Pond, but the permitting process may take a few months. Residents began complaining of finding live rats, and dead ones, near their homes in August. County Legislator Debra Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, said her office received 10 complaints that month. She said she has not received many complaints in recent weeks.
“It has definitely slowed down,” she said. “I don’t remember getting any complaints recently.”
Helath Department investigators found Lofts Pond visitors were feeding birds and waterfowl, in particular ducks and geese. Officials have asked residents to stop doing that. “You’re going to attract rats,” Mulé said.
Mary Ellen Laurain, a Health Department spokeswoman, said that fruits and vegetables grown in backyards also tend to attract rats, especially when they are ripe. “They’re going to move to where the food is,” Laurain said. Rats have also been known to eat dog feces left on sidewalks and backyards, she said. Acorns are a food source, too, according to a Health Department handout.
The Health Department also advises people to fix dilapidated structures on their properties, such as doghouses, mow their grass regularly, and trim bushes and shrubs. Residents should remove standing water near their houses, including in birdbaths. And they are advised to keep garbage cans covered and ensure there are no holes in them.
Baldwinites weren’t the only Nassau County residents with a vermin problem this summer. “There have been rat problems quite frankly throughout Nassau,” Mulé said. Seaford, Glen Cove and Massapequa residents also reported an uptick in rat sightings. According to the New York Times, this is nothing new. The paper reported that rat complaints jumped from 850 in 1997 to 1,400 in 1998 in Nassau County.