Rats! They’re back. But their population is under attack; that’s according to Fire Chief Steve Glinke, who, along with several other village employees, is involved with a comprehensive effort to prevent rodent infestation throughout town.

The preventive measure is being taken by the village to track and exterminate rats. The Department of Public Health and Safety is fielding calls from residents (who are encouraged to ring if they spot rodents), mapping the sites of the reports, and then passing on the info to a contracted pest management company.

“We are preemptively trying to deny the rats a place to burrow and feed,” Glinke said.

Both the village and Envirosafe, Inc. are monitoring alleys behind businesses, construction sites, and residencies with overgrown lawns and or shrubbery. These are all places where rats feed and burrow.

Stroll down any of the alleys on Madison Street and you’ll likely see a number of small, plastic black boxes, some of which have warnings advising nosey humans to stay away. That’s because they’re filled with difethialone, a poisonous concoction aimed at wiping out the rat population. (It causes fatal internal bleeding when ingested.)

The boxes were installed by Envirosafe, Inc., which is doing much of the dirty work around town, like planting the plastic death chambers behind restaurants and other rat hot spots. (A 2010 village ordinance also requires businesses to tend to these abatement boxes if the village places them outside a store, something Glinke said the shop-owners are doing well.)

Businesses are also advised to close dumpster lids and to not overstuff garbage bins, so the vermin don’t have anything to feed on. As part of its comprehensive extermination plan, the village will deploy summer interns to walk the streets and alleys to make sure businesses and residents follow these steps, lest they receive a warning or citation.

ÊProperty owners also need to mow their grass, yank weeds and cut shrubbery, the fire chief said. If they don’t after several warnings, the village will do so for them at a mandated rate of $250, plus any other fines. Rats can forge homes in these environments because the overgrown grass, shrubbery or weeds provide them with easy cover.Ê

“It’s not really a program that’s meant to be for punishment but rather for information,” said Gary Pietrucha, president of Envirosafe.

“We don’t want to excessively fine people, but we want to keep Forest Park clean,” said Rory Hoskins, commissioner of Public Health and Safety, echoing Pietrucha’s assessment.

ÊThe village is also paying close attention to construction sites and green space surrounding the CTA’s Forest Park Blue Line stop at 711 Desplaines Ave. Areas that have been dug up expose a layer of fresh, soft ground, which is ideal for burrowing rodents, and the hilly region also provides rodents with a similar cushiony surface.

According to Hoskins and Glinke, the CTA plans to hire the pest control company Orkin to exterminate any rats living and/or feeding in proximity to the station. George Cavelle, general manager of rail operations for the CTA, did not respond to questions regarding the CTA’s participation in the village’s rat-prevention program.

The village has been working to combat the spread of rats for some time now, hiring Envirosafe three years ago, mapping and logging the locations and results of rat sightings, and now encouraging residents to likewise proactively address the issue.

Pietrucha believes the problem is in check because the frequency of Envirosafe’s scheduled village-wide monitoring of rat hot spots has been cut back from once weekly to twice monthly.

“The amount of activity coming in has been dramatically reduced,” he said, in reference to the monitoring and extermination efforts.

“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” said Glinke.