Rat infestation prompts meeting in West Islip

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WEST ISLIP -

West Islip residents attended a town hall meeting Thursday night to address a growing rat problem.

Joe Lopardo says he's trapped about 15 rats in his yard this year so far. He was among the dozens who turned out for the meeting at West Islip Public Library, where Suffolk County Health Department officials shared some pointers on how to control the rodents.

Although there's been an uptick in the number of rats in the county this year, the Health Department says the problem is not isolated to one specific area.

"We had 260 rodent complaints this year alone," says Brian Gibbins, a wildlife specialist with the Health Department. "Only a little over 3 percent are from West Islip."

The meeting didn't appear to satisfy many attendees -- the crowd shrank as it went on. Some frustrated residents walked right out, telling News 12 that they didn't hear the answers they were looking for, and were instead given pamphlets with general information on rat control.

"We've asked every government official for help," says Gary Westwood, of West Islip. "And the answer is we can't help you."

Anyone in Suffolk with a rodent problem can report it to the Health Department at 631-852-5900.

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