Task force forms to deal with Memphis' rat problem

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - After an Action News 5 investigation into a Bluff City rat problem, a Rat Task Force took shape.  Now, that task force is taking action to curb the growing number of these critters in the area.

Last November, Action News 5 got up close and personal with a growing rat problem in the community. Since then, a group officials with Memphis and Shelby County, along with the Health Department, have been looking at ways to lower the rat population.

"It's nearly impossible, would be impossible, for the Health Department to be able to eradicate rats on private property," Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter said.

That's why, Carpenter said, he helped formed the Rat Task Force.  This week, the group decided the best way to get rid of rats is to educate the public.  

"One of the issues is that people don't understand what causes rats, and what they're doing to create food sources and to create an environment for rats," he said.

Carpenter says the group is looking at putting prevention notices on trash cans, billboards, utility and tax bills, and even televised public service announcements.     

But first, the task force has to figure out how to fund that plan.

"We'll look at city and county sources," Carpenter said. "We'll look for federal grant dollars and we'll look for free opportunities for advertisement, but we're but we're going to put together a comprehensive plan over the next 30 days."

Vector Control already collects a fee on your utility bill to fund some of their rodent control efforts. Carpenter said it won't be necessary to raise that fee to bring the rat population under control.

The Rat Task Force will meet again in 30 days to discuss how to fund the campaign. Members are considering money from the city and county, and possible grants to address the problem.

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