Rat infestation: Long Island officials pitch solution to rodent problem

Kristin Thorne Image
Monday, October 26, 2020
Lawmakers introduce bill to help communities deal with rats
Nassau County lawmakers say their communities are becoming infested by rats and they want more funding to take care of the problem.

LEVITTOWN, Long Island (WABC) -- Legislators in Nassau County are expected to vote this week on an amendment to the county budget which would resurrect a countywide rodent extermination program.

The amendment, which is being introduced by Legislator John Ferretti Jr. (R-Levittown), would add $450,000 that already exists in the county budget to the budget of the Nassau County Department of Health to fund the program.

"This is a program that this community is in dire need of," he said at a press conference on Monday in Levittown. "Rat infestations pose a serious public health risk to our community, and it's time Nassau County takes real action."

Town of Hempstead Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr. said in the 1990s, during his early time as a Nassau County legislator, the county used to give rat traps to homeowners who needed them.

"We always had the traps, the rat traps that we gave to the families that had rats in their yards," he said.

Ferretti Jr. said the county extermination program was eliminated during the Tom Suozzi administration.

RELATED | New York City gnaws into 3rd spot on 'Rattiest Cities' list

Nassau County legislators are scheduled to vote on the amendment on Thursday.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran can veto the amendment.

"It's imperative that the County Executive does not veto the restoration of this program," Ferretti Jr. said.

The County Executive's office said in a statement to Eyewitness News:

"County Executive Curran's budget proposal includes more than a dozen new positions to protect public health, including food safety, disease investigation and control. This will support the Nassau County Health Department's ongoing efforts to conduct inspections for pests and continue with our main objective of protecting residents from the COVID-19 pandemic and saving lives."

Eyewitness News has been covering rat infestations in neighborhoods of Nassau County for the last two years.

Plainview resident Yolanda Coveney, who had rats last summer, said she hopes the amendment is approved.

She said inspectors with the county Health Department were little help when they came to her property.

"They said, 'You have to put out traps and you have to do whatever needs to be done to get rid of them,'" she said.

Coveney estimates she spent hundreds of dollars trying to trap rats on her property.

RELATED | CDC warns of unusual, aggressive rats because of pandemic

The CDC says rats in search of food have become more aggressive during the pandemic


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