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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Rat infestation on Campus

The incorrect version of this story was previously uploaded to The Roundup News. This is the correct version.


Wherever there are people, there are bound to be rats, but the rat population on Pierce campus has grown out of control in recent months creating unsanitary conditions.

Chair of Political Science, Economics and Criminal Justice Kim Rich explained how the rat infestation has affected her personally.

“Rodents had urinated on my desk, computer speakers, keyboard, books and paperwork,” Rich said. 

Instructor of Life Sciences Shannon DeVaney explained that rats spread diseases such as typhus and jaundice. 

“They’re a health concern when they get into buildings where people spend a lot of time and we are breathing the air,” DeVaney said. “There are a few potential diseases people can get when they are exposed to the rat poop or pee.” 

According to Rich, the rats have only recently gotten out of control.

“Being in the same office for the past 10 years, I have never had a rodent issue. But the lack of cleanliness around the campus and the standing rainwater issue not being addressed is causing all this,” Rich said. 

DeVaney explained that open trash cans on campus are part of the reason why the rat infestation has grown. 

“We have to take care of our trash problem. We have a lot of overflowing trash,” DeVaney said. “Just putting lids on the trash cans would go a long way.” 

Rich explained that she spent several hours every day cleaning her office of rodent urine and droppings before deciding to take more drastic measures.

“I basically went to Home Depot and bought materials and created a grate,” Rich said. “I drilled and screwed in a grate to fill the two inches or so gap between the floor and the door.”

Rich emailed the district to address the rodent problem. Risk Management responded by sending a company to inspect the building and make recommendations. 

“I am disappointed that as of this date those recommendations have not been addressed and I think that the trash and the cleanliness issue on campus must be addressed now,” Rich said. “It’s not something that can wait. The longer we wait the more of a hazard we create.” 

Pesticides were used in the past to address the rat problem. 

Chair of Philosophy and Sociology Cara Gillis explained that rodent pesticides used in the past were harmful to surrounding wildlife. 

“The rodenticide they were using was an anticoagulant. If the rat ate the poison, and if a hawk or fox or owl ate it, those animals die also,” Gillis said. “And the way they die is they will bleed from their whole body, everywhere.”

Glue traps are the current method for killing rodents, but Gillis is still uneasy with this. 

“Glue traps are not the quickest way to die for an animal, and it causes protracted suffering in the order of a week or more, and often the animal will chew his feet off to get out,” Gillis said. “I’m an ethicist. Perhaps one might argue that there is an obligation to minimize suffering if it’s at all possible.”

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