Cheektowaga is continuing to ask its residents to place garbage in cans covered with lids to combat rats.
"The main source of the rodent problem is a food source," Councilwoman Alice Magierski said. "Baiting will not solve the problem if we don't remove the food source."
Town representatives have met with county Health Department officials about the rodent problem, she said. The experts say unattended garbage continues to be the largest source of food for rats, she added.
The town hired private contractors at the end of the summer to lay poison bait down in some neighborhoods, and has distributed more than 6,000 pieces of literature about the rodents. The Erie County Health Department also baited private property in the town in a bid to reduce the rat population.
There was an increase in complaints about rats in several Buffalo suburbs during the summer, including some Cheektowaga neighborhoods. There had been some discussion about requiring Cheektowaga residents to place garbage in cans. Buffalo's rat problems were drastically reduced after the city distributed large garbage containers with covers to residents three years ago. But Cheektowaga is asking residents to use garbage cans on a voluntary basis.
"We really believe this is a regional issue," Magierski said, adding that the town is asking for the help and cooperation of residents.
She said residents have been worried that sanitation workers would damage their garbage cans by throwing them, but workers have been careful with the cans.
"For four weeks in my neighborhood, all the cans are left standing up," she said. "Your property will be respected."
In a related development, Council Member Thomas M. Johnson Jr. has sent a letter to Erie county legislators representing Cheektowaga stating that the county public health activities to limit the spread of diseases such as those carried by rats should be funded in next year's county budget.