Landlord removing 1K fast-breeding rats told to hurry up by township

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 12, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, MI – Landlord Dale Carr could use a pied piper right about now. 

He’s tasked with removing a population of more than 1,000 fast-breeding rats at a rental home of his on Airline Road in Muskegon County’s Fruitport Township — and township officials say he’s losing a race with the rats’ reproduction rate.

The swelling rodent population was estimated by Muskegon County Animal Control May 29 to be more than 1,000. Roughly 1,500 rats have already been removed from the property, but an estimated 1,200 remained there Monday, June 8.

The population arose from a cage of domestic or pet rats that were dropped off at the property a few months ago during the winter, according to Carr’s former tenant, Christine Lea Bishop.

Bishop ran an animal rescue operation, called the Critter Café Rescue, out of the house she rented from Carr.

After authorities learned rats had overrun the rescue, Bishop was barred from spending her nights there, although for seven more days she was allowed to return to the building to retrieve larger animals in the building: birds, cats and rabbits.

Now, after a Fruitport Township meeting Monday night, Carr has been given a deadline for showing progress in his work removing the rats.

“We’ve indicated we need to see substantial progress by the end of the week, otherwise we’ll have to make other decisions,” said Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem. “The obvious method is (a) court order in an interest of protecting the public.”

Werschem hopes that Carr succeeds in removing the rats. “Obviously, avoiding the courts is in everybody’s best interest,” he said.

At the township meeting June 8, Werschem called the rats “a real and present danger to the local community,” because they could carry diseases or other vermin like fleas. Resident Jim Jackson – who lives near the house and has been helping Carr, law enforcement and Muskegon County Animal Control trap the rats – said he was also concerned.

A female domestic rat becomes fertile at five weeks of age, according to the National Fancy Rat Society, an owners’ group. Gestation is 22 days or about three weeks, and a litter can yield eight to 25 offspring.

It would be possible to put a tent over the house and fumigate the house, killing all of the rats there, officials have said. However, the plan so far has been to trap and remove the rats to animal shelters.

“We’re not going to do anything to kill the rats,” Carr said. “We have secured a licensed facility that will take them.”

Carr said he was working on the problem and hoped to have progress to report by the deadline.

He hasn’t yet decided whether to demolish or repair the home once the rats are removed.

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