(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Forget cicadas; In Rolling Prairie, it's a rat invasion they're worried about this summer. Many Rolling Prairie area residents have reported large rats, in the dozens or more, making themselves at home.
The rodent onslaught isn’t exactly of Biblical proportions, but it is a problem. Amanda Runion is spearheading an effort to report the vermin activity to the county. She says the health department identified the pests as Norway rats, which can be sixteen inches long from head to tail. Runion started noticing the large pests a few weeks ago. Others say the rats have been around since March or longer. One resident who lives on State Road 2 south of town claims to have caught nearly 50 rats, while another in-town resident says she has spent hundreds of dollars having them professionally trapped.
Some residents blame the municipal sewer system that recently went through town, but county officials say that isn’t likely. County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says he investigated that possibility. "I talked to the Sewer Board about it. They said absolutely not. The sewer line's got absolutely nothing to do with the rat problem. Period."
Others link the problem to a couple of recently demolished grain silos. Steve Mrozinski, with the LaPorte County Co-op, says the county health department visited their facility Thursday and found no rats. The Co-op, Mrozinski says, has not stored grain for over six years, nor has it dismantled any silos.
Commissioner Mrozinski offers a different theory. He thinks garbage and debris left by county residents in yards and roadways are inviting a pest problem. In addition, he has received numerous complaints about untidy properties. "There's a lot of people here that are in need of a wake-up call from code enforcement," Mrozinski says. "Maybe that's got something to do with the rats. I don't know." Mrozinski has been outspoken in recent years about enforcing stricter property maintenance standards in the county.
Whatever the cause, Mrozinski says they’ll get to the bottom of the problem as more information is collected. "We're going to find out what's going on; we'll get to a conclusion because you don't want rats. That's not a good thing."
For now, county health officials need a tally of rat sightings. Runion has created a form to collect data and turn it over to the health department next Friday.
For the survey tracking vermin activity in Rolling Prairie, follow this link:
https://forms.gle/Be874vUx3NN2tMCH9. Your identity does not have to be disclosed, as long as general information about the problem can be collected.