Home News A bill would make it harder to control California’s thriving rats

A bill would make it harder to control California’s thriving rats

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THE
ECONOMIST

Counting
rats in a city may be impossible. But with plump specimens scurrying
about during the day on State Street, the main shopping drag in Santa
Barbara, a tourist destination in California, it appears that the
beach town’s rodents are numerous. In fact, rats seem to be
thriving statewide. Louis Rico, of American Rat Control, says Los
Angeles’s rat population has probably grown by 50% in five years,
bringing public-health problems. His Los Angeles County firm is “busy
as heck”. Los Angeles comes second on a ranking of America’s
“rattiest” cities by Orkin, a pest controller. What is behind the
rat boom? Thanks to the end of California’s long drought, more
fruit has fallen from trees or is tossed into the compost piles that
rats love. Lengthening warm seasons have increased rodent breeding.
Also to blame are policies that have restricted homebuilding in
California and thereby driven up rents. Homelessness is soaring as a
result—California is home to 12% of Americans but nearly half the
country’s “unsheltered”, according to federal statistics. The
resulting outdoor defecation feeds roaches for rats to eat. Clutter
and food in homeless encampments offer rats hiding places and
additional grub.

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