UNION, NJ — The Union Health Department issued an advisory Aug. 22, alerting residents to take precautions to reduce the presence of rodents, an issue that was subject of social media posts and point of discussion at a Township Committee meeting later that day.
One resident who addressed the committee blamed a foreclosed home located on Louisa Street near the Elizabeth River as a potential source for rodents.
However, Natalie Pineiro, the township’s public information officer told LocalSource in interview on Aug. 24, that the problem results from more than foreclosures and abandoned homes, saying it is, “a multifaceted problem, which is why we are reminding people that they can do their part to help abate the problem. We are limited as to what we can do from a government perspective. We can treat public properties but the properties themselves need to be maintained. It is a combination with working together with the residents that needs to be addressed.”
In a phone interview on Aug. 23, Union Health Officer Marconi Gapas said the rodents have become more prevalent in the Putnam Manor area due to the disturbance by construction, which has led rodents to seek refuge in places that are unkempt.
Furthermore, small projects, such as paving and curbing work, can also cause rodent disbursement, Gapas said.
A total of seven complaints regarding rodent issues have been filed with the Union Health Department during the past year.
Two complaints were filed recently in August. Other complaints occurred sporadically, with one complaint filed in April, two in May, one in June, and one in July.
The Union Health Department offers suggestions for abatement that primarily focus on the elimination or avoidance of providing a food source or shelter.
• Clean up your yard, alley and driveway of all trash.
• Place all garbage in metal containers or rodent-proof cans with tight-fitting lids.
• Keep lids on trash cans at all times including outside for pickup.
• Eliminate possible shelters under porches, decks, outside stairs, and in and under sheds.
• Pile all wood or other material stored outside into closely packed units or stacks at least 6 to 12 inches off the ground.
• A compost bin or pile should also be rat-proof. Leaves and garden accumulation should be put into compost bins — no food should be placed inside compost bin.
• Sufficient trash cans should be used to prevent overloading and spilling of garbage and refuse.
• Do not feed birds, cats or any other wild animals in an uncontrolled manner, such as by throwing pieces of bread, crackers, bird seed, or table scraps onto the ground.
• House pets such as dogs or cats should not be fed outside; if so food should be removed immediately after eating.
• Eliminate any standing water outside, including: bird baths, water for pets and kiddy pools.
If rodents continue to be a problem, township officials ask that residents use the “Report a Concern” feature on its website, www.uniontownship.com, or to contact the health department at 908-851-8507.