DENVER – The Colorado Department of Agriculture is now investigating the initial response to a rat infestation at the Breakers Resort apartment complex.
On Saturday, several tenants told Denver7 that pest control crews initially tossed several (10 gram) packets of First Strike Soft Bait into the bushes outside their homes.
They said the bait did its job, killing numerous rats, but it also killed rabbits, squirrels and birds.
Some said they were afraid to walk their dogs in the area.
“I’m afraid of him grabbing a squirrel (that’s been poisoned,”) said Chad Clements.
On Tuesday, the head of Vector Control at the Denver Environmental Health Department, told Denver7 that he didn’t see any loose packets when he visited the complex earlier in the day, but Doug Kelley added, the complaints were still a concern because “rodenticide can be dangerous.”
Denver7 has learned that a locally owned pesticide company was initially called in to deal with the rodent problem, after residents began complaining about rats eating the insulation off electrical wiring in their cars.
The day after Denver7 reported about the infestation, and the loose bait packets left behind, the complex hired a well-known national pest control service provider to remedy the situation.
Crews from that second company spent much of the day Saturday picking up loose bait packets and dead rats.
An industry source told Denver7 that the initial placement of some of the bait packets was “irresponsibly done.”
“I can’t imagine a scenario where you’d just toss a packet out like that,” the source said.
Agriculture officials, who enforce pesticide and herbicide application rules, aren’t commenting about this case because it is under investigation.
Garbage dumpsters as a food source
Kelley said one of the main reasons there are so many rats at the Breakers is because the garbage dumpsters on the property have drainage holes cut into the metal, near the bottom on one of the sides.
“About 90 percent of the time, that’s a reason for the infestation,” he said. “They’re just an open hole and an invitation to the buffet in the dumpster, for the rat.”
Kelley said the drain holes aren’t really necessary in Colorado, “because we don’t get that much rain.”
He said he recommends that “the trash company or apartment maintenance staff weld some sort of metal grid over the hole, so it can drain without the rats being able to get in.”
Kelley said he has seen worse infestations.
He also said the Breakers is now on the right track to getting the problem resolved.
"The new company placed several "bait stations" in the affected area," he said.
He also said tenants should also make sure that dog food and bird feed isn’t left out in the open.
Kelley said once the food source is addressed, the rats will move on.
The Vector Control chief said that’s why it’s important that neighboring subdivisions also take steps to make sure the rats don't find an inviting food supply near their homes.