Rats taking over People's Park

October 16, 2008 6:47:13 PM PDT
It is the year of the rat, literally, at People's Park in Berkeley.

Frequent visitors to the park, owned by the University of California, Berkeley, say this year, the rat problem is worse than ever.

Rats, large in number and size, have taken up residence in the park famously reserved for people.

"They're just huge," Eddie Choate said. "They're not normal rats."

While a few rats kept as pets were out Thursday afternoon, the variety considered pests are a bit hard to find during daylight hours; but the evidence of their existence is everywhere.

There are rat holes under nearly every bush, hollow tree stumps and traps that UC Berkeley has put out in an attempt to control the problem.

Thanks in part to food and garbage left behind by picnickers and those who participate in a daily meal service for the homeless, the rat problem is much worse this year, the park's caretaker told ABC7. A composting station, filled with a lot more than compost, does not help either.

The university is considering recruiting barn owls to exterminate the rats.

At least some of the locals like the idea.

"If you can bring in owls, and put in owl houses in these big trees, then that would be beautiful," John Keilholz said. "That's nature."

The university will consider all of its options at a meeting scheduled for next week.


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