Fairfax County has no plans—yet—to participate in a "rat summit" in the next few months with other jurisdictions, said Glen Barbour, the county's public safety information officer.
"At this point, the Fairfax County Health Department has not been invited to participate in the so-called 'rat summit,' which currently is a state issue," he said.
The meeting is the brainchild of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has said he does not want Virginia overrun with D.C. rats. The office of fellow Republican Congressman Frank Wolf, who represents Virginia's 10th District, is reportedly helping coordinate the meeting. Cuccinelli, who lives in Prince William County with his wife and seven children, has said he plans to run for governor in 2013. He has a Cuccinelli for Governor office in Fairfax, at 10560 Main St.
Cuccinelli contends that D.C.'s Wildlife Protection Act could mean that rats in D.C. would be trapped and let loose in Virginia. The brouhaha began after rats were seen scurrying about near Occupy D.C. encampments. D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh has said that rats are not covered by the protection act.
"Fairfax County does have rats and mice, but not an unexpected number given the size of both the county and population," said John Yetman, Environmental Health Supervisor, Fairfax County Health Department. "We do consider rats an important public health concern. As you know, rat populations, if left uncontrolled, can spread disease among humans."
The role of the county Health Department, when it comes to rodents, is to respond to citizen complaints about rats to prevent uncontrolled rat populations, as well as to educate residents about the topic. Residents of Fairfax County and cities of Falls Church and Fairfax can report rats that they may see to the Health Department by calling 703-246-2300 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fairfax County saw a small increase in the number of rats reported last year compared to 2010. Here's the rat rundown:Year Number of Rats Reported 2011 335 2010 305 2009 386 2008* 510 2007* 503 2006* 547 2005* 750 2004* 802 2003* 450 * includes mice complaints
The two types of rats found in the county are the Norway Rat and the Black or Roof Rat, Yetman said, noting that both types of rat are specifically classified as a nuisance species by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries(VaDGIF) and are not protected in anyway.
"All animals other than nuisance species are covered by the VaDGIF regulations that require a license and limit taking to a specific season for hunting and trapping," Yetman said.
The county only keeps records of complaints; licensed pest control companies are not required to make any reports to the county, Yetman said, although they are supposed to keep records of pesticide treatments.
What about mice? "We keep track of citizen reports of mice and the outcome of the investigation inside multi-unit residential buildings and businesses where their normal behavior poses a public health risk," he said.
Last year, the county received 31 reports of mice; the previous year, the county received 34 complaints.