Facilities battles Foggy Bottom rat issues

The Facilites department’s head reported actions taken over the summer to curtail the number of rats on campus have resulted in fewer reports of rodents in GW buildings, but some students say rodents remain a nuisance.

Facilities took special precautions over the summer to fight rats, Associate Vice President for Facilities Juan Ibanez said, like pulling appliances away from walls to clean behind them, and blocking any openings in walls that were found during inspections.

“Our technicians also walked around the outside of buildings to look for and close exterior openings. We feel this extra effort paid off as the number of mice reported has been small,” Ibanez said.

Statistics from the D.C. Department of Health also indicate that rats were less of a problem throughout the District this fiscal year compared to last year, though DOH continues to fight the rat population.

According to DOH, during the 2008 fiscal year – October to September – there were 3,586 complaints involving rats. During the 2009 fiscal year, DOH only received 2,950 complaints, an almost 18 percent decrease.

Students interviewed by The Hatchet said rats are likely to remain a problem because GW is located in a metropolitan area.

Libby Osher, a junior living in Amsterdam Hall, said she sees rodents most often around restaurants and places with food, as well as in front of the School of Business’ Duques Hall.

“I lived in Munson last year, and I saw a lot on that sidewalk on I Street, but I haven’t really seen any closer into campus,” she said.

Other students have had closer encounters with the rodents.

“I saw a mouse in the lobby one day. I was getting my laundry; [it was] terrifying,” said Christy Russo, a sophomore living in Schenley.

Russo said she sees rats when she walks through an alley to get to JBKO to visit friends.

“I walk through that alley all the time and, obviously, back alleys are a pretty common rat home,” she said. “So I see them a lot.”

Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for DOH, said in an e-mail that the number of rats in D.C. fluctuates due to environmental conditions, like rainfall and temperature.

For Foggy Bottom, Iverson said DOH conducts routine and complaint-driven inspections, and places bait to reduce the rodent population.

“DOH also has Code Enforcement Officers that conduct inspections that can lead to enforcement action for conditions that attract and support rodents, such as waste containers lids open and improper storage of grease,” Iverson said.

Mice still make their way into GW living and work spaces, though. To catch rats, Facilities uses spring-loaded snap traps, glue or sticky traps, and traps that rats can enter but not exit, Ibanez said.

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