Surfside Beach Town Council addresses town's rat issue - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Surfside Beach Town Council addresses town's rat issue

(Source: Janine Gorline) (Source: Janine Gorline)

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – There isn’t a question, council members believe rats are a public health issue. However, there is a question surrounding how to get rid of the rodents, and who is responsible to do that.

For a year now, some neighbors have brought concerns to council about rats taking up residency in Surfside Beach. They believe the rodents have a constant food source from the trash bins lining the beach.

Earlier this month, a rat ended up in the pool of a home nearly two blocks from the beach. Those sightings have sparked the conversation again. On Monday evening, Surfside Beach Town Council started brainstorming ideas on how to best clear out the unwanted guests.

 “DHEC is responsible for keeping the people in South Carolina safe. They’ve encountered this before. The solutions and alternatives they propose, may not be what people expect,” explained Mayor Doug Samples.

One of those unusual recommendations? “The controlled introduction of feral, neutered and vaccinated, tagged felines into problem areas,” said Micki Fellner, the Town Administrator.

Cats are under consideration. It may seem far-fetched, but Surfside Beach wouldn’t be the first coastal town on the Grand Strand to implement the program.

 “Myrtle Beach’s rat problem has gone down to almost zero,” said Town Councilman Bob Childs.

Over the last five years, council points out, Myrtle Beach has released 20 cats. They said it successfully reduced rats in the area.

“They have a person with DHEC who can give us the ins and outs and I think we should try it,” expressed Childs.

However, DHEC points out it has 'no regulatory authority in regards to a rat control program for municipalities.

In an email to WMBF News Reporter Stephanie Robusto, Cassandra Harris with DHEC Media Relations wrote, "in the early 2000s, DHEC received mutliple complaints regarding large rats in the residential area of Myrtle Beach. Our staff knew of a feral cat program in another area of the state which aimed at rat population control. In an effort to assist, staff proposed the program to the city.

Harris said the City of Myrtle Beach did implement a similar program, but she is under the impression the city has since discontinued the program.

It is one possible solution for Surfside Beach. Cats aside, council members are also considering spring-loaded trash cans, changing the pickup schedule, or even bringing in an outside company to help.

Copyright 2015 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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