Garbage totes can frustrate rats and force them elsewhere, but what about Dumpsters that are corroded and porous around their bases?
"That can be just like throwing their food all over the ground," Erie County Legislator Thomas A. Loughran, D-Amherst, said Tuesday as the county's Health Committee considered ways to help county and town officials drive rats away.
Rats have been turning up more in Buffalo's first-ring suburbs since the city phased in new garbage totes to take away the rodents' source of food. Now that the vermin are more prevalent in Amherst, Cheektowaga and the Tonawandas, those communities and others are phasing in totes, requiring containers with lids or applying other solutions.
At the request of Legislator Michele M. Iannello, D-Kenmore, the committee asked the Health Department to work on a comprehensive control program and to look for outside grants, both of which department officials already are doing.
But lawmakers said they also would be willing to toughen the penalties when people do not comply with health codes. For instance: a higher fine when trash haulers or commercial customers fail to provide rodentproof Dumpsters.
Panel members asked Health Commissioner Anthony J. Billittier IV to bring them his suggestions for stronger laws.
"If we don't get rid of the food source, we don't get rid of the problem," said Loughran, who described his difficulties in determining who should replace a leaky Dumpster he noticed in Amherst.