WASHINGTON (7News) — A viral video of rats running rampant in a Capitol Hill Popeyes kitchen has brought attention to a constant problem in DC that only seems to grow worse with time.
The rodent control division of DC Health keeps numbers on complaints about rats, which grew from 5,553 in 2018 to 7,843 in 2020, a 40% increase.
Out with a city rodent control crew Friday afternoon near NOMA Metro station, 7News watched as they found rat burrows under decorative greenery, began spreading poison, then jumped back as a rat scurried from cover to cover until it found a hole and disappeared.
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"Rats are geniuses. They survive," says Gerard Brown, program manager for Rodent and Vector Control for DC Health. "Since the pandemic, we've been observing more (rats), especially in residential areas, because we believe that since more people are working from home, and rely on a lot of food delivery, for services, they have more garbage, and more trash to put out."
The Popeyes video showed rats scurrying across the floor and climbing the walls, after the chicken delivery man, who shot the video turned on the lights in a kitchen area.
After that video, corporate Popeyes revoked the franchisee's license forcing the business to permanently close. The chicken delivery man, who shot the video says he was suspended for posting it. He started a GofFundMe page asking for $10,000 to support himself. By Friday afternoon he'd received nearly $30,000.
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Brown says rat control is a difficult job. He said Mayor Muriel Bowser gave his section an extra $1 million, which they used to hire more rat abatement workers, but it's a struggle.
Asked about outdoor eateries, another result of the pandemic, Brown said "More eateries, they produce more trash. So you can put that together: more trash, more rats."