Wausau man wages war on neighborhood rats

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 7, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) – World War II and Korean War veteran Neil Olson has seen swarms of rats in his life, and now the 89-year-old Lincoln Avenue resident is waging a one-man battle against the rodents in his neighborhood.

“Rats and me, we don’t get along,” Olson said. “They’ve got a lot of places to hibernate and populate.”

Olson has trapped 11 rats near his home over a recent three-week period and ventures he’d have more if he used all of his traps. And these aren’t just any rats: three females were more than a foot long, he said – big enough to thwart any cat that fancied itself a mouser.

Olson suspects the pests are in the neighborhood because there are so many vacant homes. Five are empty around his block alone, some of which are being remodeled and have yards strewn with debris, Wausau Daily Herald Media (http://wdhne.ws/10vtwTg ) reported.

“People are moving out and the rats are moving in,” laughed Mitchell Stachoviak at his mother’s house across Lincoln Avenue from Olson. While he and neighbors interviewed for this story had not noticed rats in the area, Stachoviak said he’s glad Olson has taken it upon himself to get rid of and possibly contain them.

Wausau has been working in recent years to address animal control issues and blight, but neither the city nor Marathon County has a program targeting rodents. When Olson called the city clerk’s office he was forwarded to the county health department where he declined to leave a message.

“We would certainly want to be notified of that,” said Wausau Chief Inspector and Zoning Administrator Bill Hebert, who hadn’t heard anything about the rats on Olson’s block until asked about them by a reporter. The city has recently beefed up codes, added another inspector for enforcement and taken over stray cat management from the county, in part to address the city’s urban decay.

Hebert said that if his office were to receive a complaint of a housing violation with proof, staff would follow up. But, he said, they cannot wait around for a rodent to run out of a house to issue a citation.

“We need some substantial proof,” Hebert said. If a property owner is absent or resists city efforts to crack down on violations, city staff can get an inspection warrant from the municipal judge allowing them to go on the property and issue citations. They then can follow-up with enforcement actions, such as fines, if the owner doesn’t comply.

But Olson’s not waiting around for judges and bureaucrats.


Olson, who speaks affectionately to his has cocker spaniel-mix Lucky during conversational lulls, said he has been trapping animals since he was “12 years old on the farm.” At that time he used wooden box traps and spring traps.

Many critters end up in his traps, including 40 to 50 chipmunks this summer, all of which have gone to meet their maker. When he gets a squirrel or rabbit, it goes into the frying pan, he said.

Several years ago Olson had to pay a fine for using a pellet gun in the city to kill rats, which he said wandered up the street from a house where they were raised to feed a pet snake. Now Olson catches neighborhood rats in live traps, then drowns them and throws them in the sewer.

“They get a good funeral, but they’re wicked,” Olson said.

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