Hundreds of rats at condemned property may be gassed

One of 1,500 or so rats living at a condemned Fruitport Township animal rescue. (June 16, 2015)

FRUITPORT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Three weeks after the operator of Christine’s Critter Café was ordered off the Fruitport Township property, rats are still scurrying around, worrying neighbors.

The property on Airline Road across from the township hall was condemned in May because of the colony of domestic rats. They had been dropped off at the rescue, the owner said, and they multiplied until the township declared them a hazard. The other animals being cared for at the Critter Café — 40 rabbits and 18 cats — were moved out in a rush.

An undated courtesy photo of inside Cristine's Critter Cafe in Fruitport Township.
(An undated courtesy photo of inside Cristine’s Critter Cafe.)

The rats remain.

“We’re just got so many residents in the immediate area that are just up in arms,” Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday. “They want to know every day what’s being done, what kind of progress is being made.”

Early last week, experts hired by homeowner Dale Carr used thermal imaging to search the home for rats. They found clusters of heat in the attic, behind walls, all over the home — nests of the rodents. They estimated up to 1,500 rats were still inside reproducing at a rate of 100 per day, Werschem said.

That led to a rat rescue mission by the homeowner late last week, Werschem said, when crews captured up to 800 rats and shipped them off to animal rescues.

“They knew they didn’t get all of them, but the numbers had gotten down to a manageable amount,” Werschem said.

An undated courtesy photo of inside Cristine's Critter Cafe in Fruitport Township.
(An undated courtesy photo of inside Cristine’s Critter Cafe.)

Still, there could be hundreds left in the home. Tuesday, 24 Hour News 8 saw many rats under dumpsters and scurrying around the front of the house. The property reeked.

“They seem to moving around a lot more and coming out into the open a lot more right now,” Werschem said.

If catching the rats doesn’t work, the owner could be left with only one option: the nuclear option.

That would involve wrapping the house in a bubble, posting guards outside and gassing the remaining rats at an estimated cost of $30,000 to the owner.

Late Tuesday afternoon, former Critter Café operator Christine Beamer flagged down a passing 24 Hour News 8 crew from the road. She’s no longer allowed on the property that once housed her animal rescue. She said she’s angry about the way the rats are being handled, which she said was not humane.

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