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Councilors propose using birth control to combat rats, rather than poison that can kill raptors, pets and even small children

The Boston City Council today agreed to look at using rodent birth-control pellets to try to control the city's burgeoning supply of rats, by building on a pilot started in Jamaica Plain last year that one councilor said had meant an 80% reduction in the gnawing, long-tailed vermin.

City Councilors Enrique Pepén (Hyde Park, Mattapan, Roslindale) and Ruthzee Louijeune (at large) say current rodenticides have killed bald eagles and hawks in the Boston area, almost killed an owl and pose a menace to dogs and cats that eat rodenticide-laced rats - and possibly even to small children who might come in contact with them.

"Our families deserve a safe and effective strategy to keep wildlife away from our homes," as do pets, he said, adding it's time to end the use of today's rodenticides, which work by causing internal bleeding in not just rats but anything that might eat them or even come in contact with them.

Louijeune said a pilot program involving sugar-coated rat-specific birth control pellets left out along some blocks in Jamaica Plain's Hyde Square, including Cranston Street, meant a noticeable decrease in the number of rats as female rats consumed the pellets and stop ovulating - an 80% reduction in rat sightings in one case.

Residents along the streets worked with a group called Wisdom Good Works to set up, re-stock birth-control stations and to monitor the local rat population.

The councilors said that, in contrast to rodenticides, the birth control pellets are harmless to other species.

Louijeune, who said she's been on dozens of "rat walks" in Jamaica Plain, said the more than two dozen birth-control stations in JP had to be outfitted with special cages that would let rats in but not raccoons and squirrels, not because the substance is harmful to those animals but because they were eating so much that there wasn't enough left for the rats.

Pepén tallied some of the damage done by anticoagulant-laced rats, including the death of MK the bald eagle in Arlington and Owen the owl, saved after being found bleeding from his eyes at Faneuil Hall.

Pepén said a recent study by Tufts University's wildlife clinic found that every single red-tailed hawk tested in the Boston area had traces of the rodenticide in their systems.

City Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, Downtown), who has long called for the creation of a formal rat-czar position and the hiring of enough rodent-control workers to war on rats 24/7, said he would watch the birth-control experiments closely. He said he fears that some families with young children are now even considering just moving out of Boston because of all the rats.



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Somerville tried “rodent birth control” in 2014, and the project does not seem to have been a success — the pilot program was already over by 2018.

I’m curious what if anything Boston feels they’ve learned from Somerville’s similar program, and if they think they’ll have more success with this approach.


… to the system have been made. It’s worth a try because using rodenticides has been a public health and environmental disaster.


That was one company testing one product in 2014.

It's not a new technique, it's not cutting edge science. Learned all about this at a state school, 30 years ago.

It's harm reduction, and we should be trying everything so we can stop using biocides.

All the work being done to restore raptor populations is being worked AGAINST by people who are not required to consider the impacts to other wildlife as they use a sledgehammer to solve a problem. We are also killing pets like cats and dogs who eat the carcasses that lead to painful internal bleeding that cannot be stopped.

It was fine in the 50s, when we didn't know better and we were all hard assholes.

Now we know better and we MUST do better, no more excuses.


The rat problem in winter hill is crazy bad.

At night they swarm in the apartment gardens along Comm. Ave. You can see the burrows they dig in the yards and the building managements seem to do nothing about it.


… from other humans than from rats.

I’d like to see more efforts towards reducing the human population. Could we please add birth control pills to our water supply?


Where does it end? You think it is cool to stop "breeders" but many others would think it a great idea to eliminate gay people, people with disabilities, older people ... people like you (what ever that happens to mean).

Not to mention the misogyny of targeting women's reproductive freedom, given that said "birth control" is only for women.

Trumpers love to ignore consent issues and control women's bodies and this isn't any better an "idea". Besides, there are enough exogenous hormones and endocrine disruptors in our environment already.


Both Lee and Swirly.

Spiking the water supply is not cool, and, in fact, is horrifying.

You gotta write people a giant check for their cooperation.





First day on the internet?





And your post makes little sense. Maybe there is something in the water you’re drinking.

Hahaha...let's say we should kill a bunch of people, and then say, I'm only joking! Can't you take a joke?

Nice one...


Can you read?





The software did it.
Get over it.

"get over it" is your constant response every time you screw up.


Does it bother you that it had nothing to do with me after all?

Get over it.

You were seriously inappropriate.

Your intent was irrelevant.

"It's just a joke" is Trumper territory to cover for things you should know better than to say.


Am I grounded now?


No garbage pickup if not in an approved bin. Done.

I’m not clear on how leaving the garbage that’s improperly contained, on the street instead of picking it up, actually helps the rat problem.


In a bin or not in a bin.. the rats will manage to chew anything to get to food.

Chelsealand rolled out 'rodent proof" barrels several years ago. Overtime the rats have chewed thru a corner of this thick plastic bin and along the edges along the top. Now they can just slide in and out just by sticking their nose in and pushing up.

It never really helped much that much..


They are real. Saw a PBS documentary about them.


Wrong video. This one is about how New York became a rat kingdom. The Super Rat documentary I meant to post showed rats gnawing through concrete walls and steel mesh. Turns out rats are becoming pesticide resistant too; well at least in Britain.


Reminds me of the Super Predators of Central Park.

Racism, specism, humans gotta hate.

Puff puff pass, mkay?

Getting the condoms on is really tough to do.


… are finally taking some responsibility.

Magyoo dirty rat. magyoo did it to Magoo’s brother now Magoo’s gonna do it to magyoo. #Magoo.


What about dry ice?

That is safe. No biocides.


In my limited experience, dry ice has been very effective. It works well in underground burrows, but not if the rats are living in a stone wall or in the walls of a building.



When dry ice sublimates, it turns into CO2 gas, which, if I understand correctly, basically puts them to sleep permanently within minutes, as opposed to anticoagulant poisons which cause their organs to fail, is painful, and takes hours to days to kill them, during which they suffer, not to mention the risk to wildlife that may consume poisoned vermin. Or snap or glue traps, which don't always (or don't usually in the case of glue traps) kill instantly. The only other method that comes close are electric rat traps, which instantly electrocute and kill rodents that step on two charged plates after being lured into the trap. They're probably dead before they even know what hit them.


I agree Dry ice is ideal. The issue is the Fed. They have to ease restrictions on its use for us to use it for this. We gotta.. this rat issue is out of control.

I also agree about the anticoagulants. I have mice in my basement and I put out bait, which contain this poison. Came down into the basement one day, and little mouse was flip flopping and moving very slowly. Poor thing musta ate some poison and it hadn't quiet set in yet. Horrible thing to see.

(I did take them outside and put them in the planter out back to die in nature)

Glue traps are just mean. They get stuck to it and cannot move (or often they shake like a MFer to get off of it). I caught a mouse one day in one, and it was half hanging off the glue pad. It was wiggling with a MF to get off. So I took another glue trap and put it glue side down on top to mush them in there. Right before I put it down on top, I heard an audible "sighhhh" like the mouse knew it had been defeated.

I was so distraught that I put it into a trash bag, threw a cup of vegetable oil inside and took it out to the trash bin, untied. I hope the little guy was able to free himself. (oil will help a mouse get unstuck)

Yeah I am a sucker but still.. having one lunge at you when you open a cupboard is enough not to care as much anymore.


“ but still.. having one lunge at you when you open a cupboard is enough not to care as much anymore”

Eek! A mouse!!

It’s a mouse. Not a Grizzly.

But we're talking about rats. If a rat jumps out of your pantry anybody would freak out no matter how tough you think you are.

Or maybe just an airborne dust bunny.

But some people do enjoy playing hide and seek with their pet rats.

Gimme your street address so I can send a box of mice to your house. We'll see what you say when they burrow thru your food in your pantry, then you open the door and it jumps toward you.

Yes mice may be small and furry (and sometimes cute) they also carry disease. No thanks.

Worry more about the many more diseases you can catch from humans.

agree Dry ice is ideal. The issue is the Fed. They have to ease restrictions on its use for us to use it for this. We gotta.. this rat issue is out of control.

It's late stage capitalism, with a healthy measure of regulatory capture.

Use of dry ice for rodent control was previously fine.

Until someone lobbied the EPA to declare that dry ice was a pesticide and needed to be regulated. And the EPA started telling cities that their use of dry ice was illegal. Which would be kind of like the EPA declaring that water is a pesticide, and declaring that flooding rat burrows with water was therefore illegal.

Meanwhile, somebody, obtained a registration for their own branded dry ice, which was a legal pesticide.
At the same time somebody, started making complaints that cities were using unregistered pesticides (dry ice) to kill rats, and so the dry ice rat control programs were shut down.

But it gets even better: Somebody stepped in with a solution: The city could buy their labels indicating that the dry ice was a registered pesticide. and then go back to the same place you had always been buying dry ice, stick the (expensive) label on the box, and you were legally good to go.

Pure parasitism.



Don't use anticoagulants ... and don't put poisoned rodents outside.

The problem with poison is it doesn't know when to stop killing. Those ambulatory poisoned rodents have been killing all the raptors and predators in the area, including bald eagles, numerous hawks, owls and anything else that we want to stay alive to eat things. This exacerbates the rodent problem.

Since my dear tuxie Maine Coon headed across the rainbow bridge last winter we have been live trapping mice and relocating them to the nearby parks and woods well away from houses. If raptors should snack on them they won't keep killing.

You're a far better person than me, Swirly. Far better.

Not to mention that it spreads disease.

That’s why it’s illegal.


How many comments in the last three days for you? Maybe watch the Tour de France or get a job or something ...


And electrical traps.

Still any form of killing can be cruel when you kill a nursing mother and the babies are left to die slowly and painfully from starvation and dehydration.

If the birth control method becomes effective, that could be the most humane. Though could possibly still cause pain to the animals because when you mess with hormones, there can be bad side effects.
It good that they are giving this a try, in any case.

But not the only tool. On several occasions over the years I have used dry ice to evict (well, eliminate) rats that had burrowed into the front garden of the building I live in in the South End. I went to Brookline Ice and Coal in the Newmarket area and got a box of dry ice pellets, dumped them into the burrow holes, and plugged the dry ice filled burrow holes with soil, and let it slowly sublimate. No sign at all of rats from then on (not to mention, my hydrangeas really thrived that summer).


...except in pretty large quantities.

Eliminating a predator will increase vermin. Cats have been in short supply outdoors for many years. Do the (very simple) math.

Cats are marvelous at controlling vermin. That's why humans took to keeping them around in the first place, and why they were held in positions of high esteem for centuries in multiple cultures worldwide.

Dogs also have a place as rat catchers, but not a dog on a leash.

This is not a very hard problem to figure out. When people fuck with the natural order, the natural order often ends up fucked.

Yes, I am saying let cats out to fight the rats. Yes, also unleash some dogs. I'm far from some sort of green warrior, but it doesn't always have to be a chemical solution, especially when a tried and true natural one is available.

(Insofar as those who will wring hands about cats killing birds, that's also natural. There are precious few cats who can stalk and kill a healthy bird. Those they catch are mostly sick or have some other fault that makes them an easy target.)


Insofar as those who will wring hands about cats killing birds, that's also natural.

If only there was a way to train cats to target the invasive and destructive house sparrows (they may look cute, but they're nasty little buggers) and starlings and leave the native birds alone.

Yeah but.. cats really only go after mice.

Mice are much smaller than rats.... a lot smaller. Some rats I've seen could pass as small cats in size.

Not sure cats would help here except maybe have something to chase


Cats don't have to catch rats to deter them. Just the scent of cats in a neighborhood will reduce rats in that neighborhood.

It is a little confusing but they have tried using cat urine, and it the mice were undeterred.

I was actually going to try that in my basement for mice.

Roommate has two cats.. and two stinky litter boxes. Since roommate and the cats have moved in, I never see any mice or evidence of mice in my unit. But they exist in the basement.

I was going to take some used cat litter that is nicely soaked in cat pee, put it into some containers and then put those in my basement to act like an "Air Freshener" of sorts.. but its cat pee instead of oranges.

I was thinking this would work since the mice don't come into my unit b/c they can smell the cats.

I guess it won't work, according to you.

Thanks cinna! You saved me some work this weekend.

Domesticated cats are not natural. When you have a population of predators that if they eat all the prey can just eat catfood, (or for that matter, kill prey when they aren't particularly hungry just to leave a dead mouse somewhere) they will drive the population of prey way below what would otherwise happen under normal predator prey dynamics. If the prey in question are pests that don't really contribute to the broader ecosystem that's the outcome we want to happen, but cats don't really target the animals we want to get rid of all that much.


Cat scent will drive away rats from a neighborhood. The larger cats will also hunt rats.

…. off leash so they can go back to being work animals rather than pets, we need to ban cars or lower and enforce speed limits for their safety.

Not that I would be opposed to that.

Whenever someone tells me "Oh, they're an indoor cat", I wonder "What's the (expletive) point, for you, or for the animal?"