Should Boston start giving rats birth control?

Instead of putting out rat poison which can sicken animals and children, there is a proposal to put out traps with a nontoxic contraceptive to prevent the rats from reproducing

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Boston City Council is considering a new tactic to combat the rising rodent population.

District 5 Councilor Enrique Pepen is calling for a hearing to discuss rat birth control traps after a pilot program showed signs of success in Jamaica Plain.



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Instead of putting out rat poison which can sicken animals and children, water traps are placed with a non-toxic contraceptive that takes away the rats’ ability to reproduce. According to Pepen, the pilot program showed an 80% drop in the rodent population.

“This is an idea for us to explore how can we live in balance with nature and wildlife, but also address the issue of rodents,” said Councilor Pepen, “I have a 3-year-old daughter who is picking everything off the floor and something can have rat poison on it. We’ve already seen a toddler pass away because of rat poison, we want to avoid that.”

Rat poison is often criticized for the dangers it poses to other animals that come across it, or predators that eat poisoned rats and become sick themselves.

The plan now moves into committee for further review. All 13 Boston City Councilors voiced support for the plan at their weekly meeting.

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