Cities across the U.S. have recently seen an increase in rodents and reports of unusual or aggressive rodent behavior. The visibility of rodents increased during and after the pandemic for a variety of reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that rodents rely on food and waste generated by restaurants and other commercial establishments, which were largely closed during the pandemic to limit the spread of COVID-19, causing a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas. Rodents began scavenging for food elsewhere, as outdoor dining increased. Rodent food sources were replenished as cities returned to a “new normal” in 2021, surging rodent populations.
Rodents breeding in sewers can multiply so quickly that they expand beyond the crowded conditions of the sewer and come above ground in search of food and shelter. Rodents also leave the sewers during flash floods, underground construction projects, and other conditions where there is an interruption in the food supply. Per the CDC, after natural disasters like hurricanes, communities often experience a decline in rodent populations, followed by an increase in rodent populations as commercial activity returns to normal.
Rodent control must employ a holistic and flexible approach that is tailored to Hoboken and its environmental factors to overcome the high reproductive rate, adaptive behaviors, and colonizing ability of varmints. The City, residents, businesses, utility companies, and private contractors must all work together to implement rodent control practices.
Overgrown vegetation, loose cardboard, and sewers can become rodent habitats. Rodents thrive in sewers because they provide both food and shelter. Sewers provide rodents with are warmth in cold weather and cooler temperatures in hot weather as well as food due in part to garbage disposals.
The City is implementing rodent control in various public spaces and requiring that utility companies and private contractors implement rodent control for construction projects.
The City is treating sewer inlets with bait mixtures molded into paraffin blocks. The blocks are mold and mildew resistant, placed in the sewer, and are large enough to reduce the cost of frequent inspections and replenishment.
The City is also treating rain gardens, planted curb extensions, and certain areas of municipal parks, including the waterfront walkway, experiencing rodent activity with enclosed rodent bait boxes. The number and frequency of service for baiting stations along the South Waterfront was recently increased due to rodent activity near the Post Office. The City maintains these areas by mowing grass and removing weeds or overgrown vegetation that could otherwise become habitat for rodents.
Hoboken Engineering and Construction Code officials are requiring rodent control before construction mobilization and site disruption begins, throughout the work duration, until all equipment and materials are removed. As part of their road opening permit or building permit, contractors will need to show written proof of a pest control contract with a licensed pest control operator (PCO). Tasks for the PCO include: a documented baseline (pre-construction) survey of rodent activity and sanitation measures on both the proposed work site and observable areas nearby; installation of treatment such as bait boxes at the site perimeter and trailer/storage locations; subsurface baiting of manholes if utility work is included; and weekly inspections for sanitation conditions and rodent activity (more often if activity is found). The contractor shall maintain inspection and treatment records and the treatment shall be adjusted to match construction sequencing. Maintaining Contractors shall also provide and use rodent-proof refuse containers, conduct site cleanup for litter daily, properly contain refuse, and remove unnecessary debris piles and control weeds and other undesirable vegetation.
The Health Department inspects reports of rodent activity. An inspector will visit the premises and attempt to see the area where the activity was sighted to identify burrows and point of entry to structures. The inspector also conducts a survey of the neighborhood to identify possible food sources, habitat, harborage, etc. and checks sewer inlets. If a property (or properties) is identified, the owner is sent a notice of violation with directions for how to abate the code violation.
Report sightings directly to the Hoboken Health Department at (201) 420-2375 or submit a concern.
The municipal code has requirements for sanitary conditions to limit potential rodent habitat and food sources. Inspectors from the Departments of Health & Human Services and Environmental Services issue notices of violation and summons with fines for violating these code requirements.
Per the code, any container maintained for the short-term collection of refuse, recycling, composting or rainwater must have a properly fitting lid, be access-resistant to insects and rodents and must be maintained in good working order at all times and must be kept in a clean and sanitary way. The code also prohibits nuisances such as:
Rodent control requires partnership among the City, utility providers, construction contractors, residents, and businesses - including restaurants. The City is developing educational information tailored to each of these stakeholders so that we can work together to mitigate rodent activity. We need your help to keep Hoboken clean and green.
Rodents feed on garbage and pet waste. Overgrown vegetation and loose cardboard can become rodent habitat. It’s our neighborhood - let’s work together to limit rodent food sources and habitat to keep Hoboken clean and green!
Garbage and recycling should be placed in containers kept tightly covered with lids. Do not leave garbage bags outside of containers or leave containers uncovered.
Small crumbs, garbage, grains, and cereals can become rodent food sources. Keep dry goods in sealed metal or glass containers.
Cardboard is attractive to rodents, as they tend to chew it up for use in their nests. Cardboard should be flattened and secured (tied, in another box, or in a bin).
Seal up holes inside and outside your home and business to prevent entry by rodents. Learn how at the CDC website.
Trap rodents to help reduce the rodent population. Learn how at the CDC website.
Prevent contact with rodents by cleaning your home and business. Learn how at the CDC website.
Failing to pick up after your pet on sidewalks, streets, and in parks is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000. Use one of Hoboken's 500+ public waste cans to properly dispose of pet waste. Forgot a bag? Find one of Hoboken's 80+ pet waste stations.
Remove weeds, tall grass, overgrown vegetation, wood piles, and debris from yards, sidewalks, and tree pits. Maintenance of street trees and sidewalks is the responsibility of the adjacent private property owner.
Keep our streets clean. Use one of Hoboken's 500+ public waste cans to properly dispose of garbage and recycling.
Per N.J.A.C. 7:30 PESTICIDE CONTROL CODE 7:30-10.3 Rodent Baiting
(a) No person shall use any rodent bait, unless it has been placed in tamper-resistant bait boxes pursuant to (b) and (c) below, or in locations not accessible to children, pets, domestic animals or non-target wildlife.
(b) No person shall use or otherwise possess any pesticide in any rodent bait box or bait tray unless: 1. The bait box is secured against tampering when placed in areas accessible to pets, domestic animals, non-target wildlife or children; and i. The bait box or tray has attached to the exterior, a copy of the registered label of the pesticide; or ii. The bait box or tray has, attached to the exterior, a readable label with the following information about the pesticide contained therein: (1) The brand or trade name; (2) The EPA registration number; (3) The name and percentage of active ingredient(s) in the bait box; and (4) An appropriate signal word, that is, Danger-Poison, Warning, or Caution.
(c) For purposes of interpretation of (b) above, a bait box shall be considered tamper-resistant when: 1. It has met the standards for tamper-resistant bait boxes used by the EPA in PR-Notice 94-7, incorporated herein by reference; 2. The bait box containing the pesticide is in a secure storage area; or 3. The bait box is under the direct observation of a pesticide applicator.
(d) After the application has been completed or the contract has been terminated, all accessible bait shall be removed by the applicator or applicator business.
Note: snap traps are not permitted in public places
The PESTICIDE CONTROL CODE Rodent Baiting requirements above seek to ensure safety for other animals and humans.
The anti-coagulant rodenticide used in bait to treat sewers is safe to handle without polluting the water supply. It is securely anchored in the sewers, far out of reach of anything except the target pest. Baiting sewers does not present a danger to non-target animals since other animals (squirrels, cats, dogs and other mammals) do not frequent sewers.
All Contractor personnel providing pest (rodent) control services for the City of Hoboken must meet state requirements for training and certification as Commercial Pesticide Applicators.