Meeting focuses on rat, weed problems
by BRIAN NADIG
Rats and weeds were among the topics that were discussed at the July 25 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
"People are putting out traps and getting six or seven (rats) at a time, and the city’s been abating," association member Jean Brennan said.
The problem seems to be at its worst near Higgins and Moody avenues, Brennan said. Many of the 17 people at the meeting raised their hands when asked if they have noticed rats by their homes.
Residents have speculated that the construction on the former Elliott’s Dairy site at 4800 N. Nagle Ave., Harwood Heights, where a Fuller Car Wash is being beuilt, may be contributing to the problem, Brennan said.
Homeowners need to cut off the source of food for the rats by picking up after their dogs and making sure that there are no holes in their trash cans, Brennan said.
The meeting’s guest speaker was naturalist Irene Flebbe, assistant director of the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s Trailside Museum in River Forest.
Flebbe said that the proper mowing of a lawn can help combat weed growth and keep the lawn healthy. "In the summertime, it’s not a good idea to shave it down (too low)," she said.
Not all weeds and other invasive species in lawns and gardens should be dealt with in the same manner, Flebbe said. "The best way to deal with (Creepy Charlie) is to yank it out. She said its best to cut Canada thistle because the extensive root system, which has a purple flower, makes it difficulty to completely pull out, Flebbe said. "You essentially starving that long, long root (by cutting from the surface)," she said.
Flebbe recommends growing native plants whenever possible in gardens because of their positive effects. "The more native plants you have the more you’re helping the native birds," she said.
Flebbe discussed a variety of wildlife in Chicago. She said that coyotes will eat mice, rats and young raccoons and that raccoons will look to den in attics and sheds.
Coyotes have taken over the role which wolves and bears once played in the Chicago area, dating back a couple hundred years, Flebbe said. "Nature … likes having a predator," she said.
Also at the meeting, concerns were raised about poor postal delivery in the area. "We went almost a week and a half with no mail on Laramie," a resident said.
The association plans to invite a U.S. Postal Service representative to speak at a future meeting. The association usually meets at 7 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month in the basement of the Congregational Church of Jefferson Park, 5320 W. Giddings St.