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Village of Lancaster residents to get fliers on rat problem

With complaints about rats on the rise, the Village of Lancaster plans to deliver fliers later this month with tips for homeowners on how to keep the rodents away.

Residents can expect to receive an information sheet, spelling out what to do and what to avoid doing.

“It’s a ‘To Do and Not To Do’ ” information sheet, Trustee Kenneth L. O’Brien III said Monday after the Village Board meeting.

The tips include using tightfitting lids on garbage cans, cleaning up dog feces, taking care to avoid excess bird seed dropping from bird feeders and not using garbage bags in place of garbage cans.

The problem is spurring casual talk about whether Lancaster should consider using garbage totes, like Buffalo and all first-ring suburbs are using, to deter rats.

Some support making the change when the town/village solid-waste contract expires in 2019. Others complain that totes aren’t necessary and too costly – estimated between $50 and $80 apiece.

But paying for the totes is a one-time expense, O’Brien said. “I think we should have garbage totes,” he said. “It would go on the taxes, but it’s a one-shot deal. I’m a strong supporter of it because it’s the only way you’re going to reduce the number of rats.”

O’Brien believes that rats are mostly concentrated in the business district. Congested areas and dense neighborhoods and areas with restaurants also have been favorite spots. A quick glance by a reporter Monday evening between buildings in the West Main Street/Central Avenue area showed some plastic garbage cans with no lids.

Last month, Code Enforcement Officer Shawn M. Marshall updated village officials on an uptick in complaints about rats. He said he even saw one gnawing on a Halloween pumpkin in his driveway.

Erie County Health Department officials confirmed that there has been an increase in rat complaints in Lancaster from 2014 to 2015. But as Lancaster deals with more rats, municipalities that require rat-resistant garbage totes have seen a significant decline in the number of complaints.

Mayor Paul M. Maute said that Marshall has been on top of the rat issue but that he learned just recently from Marshall that rats have become a real problem.