Chicago Rat Population Bigger Than Ever Before

By Claire Chickey //

What has Chicagoans saying, “Rats!” this year? Well, a lot of rats.

During the first two months of 2016, more than 4,000 people filed rat complaints with the city, according to the city of Chicago’s data portal. That’s more than twice the complaints filed within the first two months of the last two years, and it places Chicago on a path to reach 50,000 complaints by the end of the year, according to a proposed city ordinance.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is working to stop the city’s growing rat population with an ordinance that would require property owners to clean up animal feces — the rodents’ main source of food — on their property on a daily basis.

While Chicagoans have reported rat sightings throughout the city, Loyola’s Director of Facilities Mike Jurewitch said students have reported four incidents on campus — which is less than in previous years.

However, the rat problem hasn’t gone unnoticed around Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus, where several students say they’ve seen rats.

Jillian Waun, 18, recently had a run-in with a rat on Winthrop Avenue near the Hopkins House.

“I was just walking along with some friends and I suddenly saw a shadow cross my path,” said the first-year ad/PR major. “It was definitely a rat. It was shocking, really, because I’ve never seen a rat that large or out on the street before.”

On the other side of campus, Dan Rooney, 19, said he saw some rats running toward the trash cans near Campion Hall.

“I saw a rat dart right in front of me and go towards the trash cans [that were] immediately to my left after scanning through the gate in Campion Hall,” said the first-year secondary education and history double major. “The rat had the same right to be outside as I did. If it was inside, I would have freaked out, but as long as it stays outside, I don’t have a problem.”

Adam Till, 22, lives off campus in the Uptown neighborhood. He said he’s seen rats by dumpsters when walking his dogs. However, Till said he had fewer rat run-ins when he lived on campus.

“I think Loyola is doing a great job monitoring the rat population because from my experience on and off campus, I have encountered more rats living off campus than I have living on campus,” said the  junior ad/PR major.

Jurewitch said no specific buildings on campus have had rat infestations, and the department has not changed its procedure for controlling the rat population — which involves monitoring stations placed throughout campus.

“Our goal is to make Loyola’s environment as safe and clean as possible,” said Jurewitch.

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