AU’s Tenley campus contains one of the worst rat infestations in D.C., according to the D.C. Department of Health.
NBC4 reported May 22 that health officials have indicated the intersection of Wisconsin and Nebraska, where the Tenley campus is located, was a breeding ground for the local rodent population.
Michelle Sayles, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, said rats were a common sight on campus grounds.
“There’s been enough that I’ve almost stepped on one before,” she said.
Facilities Management claims efforts to keep infestation in check is one of their top priorities. Stephanie Destefano, AU’s grounds operations coordinator, oversees the methods used for pest control. The first step, she said, is to keep the campus clean and free of garbage or scraps that would attract the rats.
Megan Carney, a freshman in the Kogod School of Business, said she noticed the effort but added that the rats still seem present on campus.
“American’s really clean, I don’t see any litter, so I don’t know why there are still so many [rats],” she said.
Maintenance of sanitary conditions alone is insufficient to deal with the problem since rats can always find other sources of food nearby, Destefano said.
A contracting agency called Innovative Pest Management Inc. undertakes more drastic methods to curb the numbers in the rodent population. The agency visits the campus twice a week, she said.
“[Contractors] place bait stations in areas where the rats are seen and inspect the areas for burrows,” Destefano said. “When burrows are discovered, our contractor treats them with a rodenticide dust and covers them up.”
To improve the effectiveness of baiting and dusting, students report each rat sighting and its location through the 2FIX system, she said.
“Rats are more active at night so it is more likely the students see more than the staff does during the day,” Destefano said. “This is why we encourage the students to report sightings so we can locate the problem spots and take care of them as soon as possible.”
Rat sightings can frequently be too close for comfort. Tom Podhrazsky, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he encountered a rat near the Ward Circle Building.
“I was drawing near Ward, and I heard a rustling behind me, and I thought ‘oh it’s just a squirrel’ so I kept drawing, and then a rat burst out and ran right between my legs,” he said.