POULSBO — After 30 years of residing on the north end of 3rd Avenue, Poulsbo resident Gerrie Austin has some unwanted house guests: rats.
“They’ve chewed a hole into my ice maker twice in the last two weeks,” Austin said. “Now, I have a steel hose.”
The rodents are in the crawl space underneath her house and have forced her to adjust her lifestyle in an attempt to limit the potential damage.
“It’s so bad I’m almost scared to go into my laundry room in the basement,” she said.
At night, the rats attract the attention of Austin’s terrier, Ozzie, who attempts to get into the house’s vents to stop the invaders.
So far at least one other neighbor has reported a similar problem, and since her’s is the fourth house south of Iverson Street, Austin said she’s sure other homeowners are likely experiencing similar problems.
“We’ve put out rat poison and are trying to do it ourselves,” she said. So far she has three confirmed kills, but that has yet to make a dent in the problem.
As to the cause of the sudden influx of rodents, Austin said she believes it has to do with the recent flurry of activity in the Poulsbo Place II development across from the Martha & Mary Childcare Center.
“In 30 years we’ve never had a rat problem even with all kinds of weather,” she said. Also, the population of wharf rats that resides on the Poulsbo waterfront hasn’t ventured up the hill in the last three decades, which leads Austin to believe the land clearing for Poulsbo Place II might be causing the problem.
Currently, Austin said she is attempting to battle the pests on her own and doesn’t know if there’s anything the city or the developer can or should do about it.
The Poulsbo Municipal Code doesn’t address the issue of rodent control during land development, which means city officials cannot legally aid in the situation.
However, the Washington State Extension Service’s Web site does offer some tips for abating a rodent invasion.
The first step is to ensure all trash and other potential food sources are eliminated. The second step is to eliminate any potential shelters for rodents and limit their ability to gain entry into a residence. The third and final step is to implement population control methods.
The WSU Extension Service recommends traps over poison, because poisons can harm children, pets and non-targeted animals. However, poisons are recommended as a method of last resort.