More vendors learn rat control
By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The second of two classes aimed at helping Chinatown vendors deal with its much-publicized rat problem drew a much larger response than the first, as well as valuable input from experts in the field of pest control.
More than 25 vendors from Kekaulike Marketplace — the site where blogger Larry Geller first captured video of rats crawling on produce more than a month ago — attended Friday's meeting in hopes of learning how best to address rat infestation.
The Chinese Chamber of Commerce hosted the sessions in conjunction with the state Department of Health. The first, held on Dec. 29, was attended by only two vendors, in large part because the start time for the meeting was an hour and a half earlier than the closing time for the marketplace.
With DOH staff unable to work overtime due to budget constraints, Tropical Termite and Pest Control president Andrew Nowinski took over instruction for Friday's session, drawing on some 40 years of experience to teach the vendors how to properly prep, bait and set traps and take other measures to rid their businesses of rats.
Wesley Fong, who is heading the chamber's efforts to work with the DOH and marketplace vendors, said he was encouraged that every vendor sent at least one representative to the meeting.
"The fact that they came out in force shows that they do care and that they want to do what's right," Fong said. "It's like golf. You can go out and hit, but are you hitting the right way? You might need a golf pro to show you how to hit correctly. In this case, we had pros come in and show them how (to get rid of rats)."
Fong said he was also grateful for the help extended by the Hawai'i Pest Control Association.
Association member Xtermco gave each vendor 10 glue traps with which to catch rats. The association also donated more than 80 pounds of rodent sewer treatment, which can be used to kill rats where they live.
Tim Lyons, executive director of the Hawai'i Pest Control Association, said vendors were appreciative of the instruction and came away with "a better understanding that the problem is not the result of anything that they are doing wrong.
"Anyone who provides food and shelter can have a problem," Lyons told the Advertiser in an e-mail.
Kekaulike Marketplace has been the focus of rat control and eradication efforts because it was the site of the initial complaints. However, Fong said the problem is not contained to that location. He said the chamber will continue to work with the DOH to expand the scope of education efforts in the district, as needed.