Rat problem in Buffalo's Lafayette Square

Posted at 3:02 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-18 18:58:12-04

People who use Lafayette Square in downtown Buffalo say the park has become overtaken by rats.  Video posted on Facebook showing several rats running near the monument sparked a large number of comments about the problem.

To show you how bold the rats are, watch video taken by 7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly that shows a rat running near the feet of a woman who was sitting on a park bench and reading a book.

The Erie County Health Department says it has been made aware of the problem and will investigate further.

However, the problem is not unique to Lafayette Square.  Thanks to a mild winter that helped the rat population grow, and a summer drought that pushed the rats to travel further, all areas are seeing an increased rat problem this year.

According to Pete Tripi from the Erie County Department of Health, there have been 3230 complaints so far this year which is an increase of 1193 over the same time in 2015.

One of those involved a toddler that was bit while sleeping inside a Buffalo home recently.

Officials say the public needs to take extra steps to keep the rodents from getting into homes:

-Make sure you dispose of any unpicked fruit or vegetables in your garden.  The health department recommends taking out all plants now that the growing season in over.

-Take all grapes off vines.

-Pick up any fruit that has fallen from trees.

-Remember that rats will create homes in piles of wood.

-Store all garbage in containers with lids.

-Plug and seal all cracks or holes in your home.  Mice can squeeze in through a hole that is only 1/4" wide.  Rats, because of their flexible body and bones, can force their way in through a 1/2" hole.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly has more in his reports.