WALDWICK, New Jersey - There are complaints of a growing out-of-control rat problem in one New Jersey suburb, and residents are speaking out about the spike in rodents population.
Those who live in Waldwick say the situation has become dramatically worse since construction began on a new apartment complex, including for the Wanklin family, whose backyard garden has apparently become a tasty target.
Lucille Wanklin claims her husband has recently trapped 43 rodents that apparently see her tomatoes as a tempting food source.
"When the garden started growing, then we realized that we had this problem," she said. "Because our tomatoes were being eaten."
She first noticed the problem when her dog walked into the house with a dead rat in its mouth, and several traps are now set up in her garden. Down the street, Rocco the dog did the same thing.
"He's got about three rats so far, in the span of a couple weeks," owner Melissa Siracusa said.
Some who live in the neighborhood think the problem is associated with a construction project at a site that was an abandoned lumber yard until about a year ago. However, the developer says workers treated the area with pesticides before the work began.
"We've complied with all of the regulations relative to pest control," said Ron Simoncini, of Russo Development. "We haven't seen any evidence that we're the cause of any recent infestation, and in fact, when we did the original demolition, we don't think that we're the source of this."
The township has made recommendations for concerned residents to follow, including:
--Not leaving pet food outside
--Birdfeeders should be off the ground and away from fences
--Always keep yards and alleys clean
--Keep garbage can lids tightly closed
Officials say the rat problem may also disappear once the weather changes.
"The winter is going to bring the rats into their natural habitat," Waldwick Animal Control Officer Carol Tyler said. "Which would mean they will go underground and be less visible."