By Robyn Doolittle
In her four years at Ryerson, Kristy Holzworth had never seen a mouse — until two weeks ago. Since then she’s seen three.
Holzworth, 25, screamed in terror last week when a mouse ran over her foot while she sat at her desk. The program assistant works on the seventh floor of the Business Building where there have been several recent mouse sightings.
“I’ve seen and heard them in the professors’ offices, there was a dead mouse in the middle of the floor the other day, and if you leave any food out, even in the drawers, they’ll chew right through it,” she said.
Tim Sly, a professor in the school of occupational and public health, says institutions like Ryerson are very attractive to rodents because they provide an abundance of food sources.
“If you can fit your fingers under a door a mouse could get in with little difficulty. There’s always going to be a problem with rodents on a campus this size, but it used to be much worse,” he said.
In 1987, acting on Sly’s recommendation, Ryerson implemented the Integrated Pest Control Management system, or IPCM. IPCM combats the pest problem by using preventative measures instead of simply calling an exterminator when someone spots a mouse.
“We know there are lots of mice, you can’t help that, it’s downtown,” Sly said. “IPCM works on keeping them from getting into the building. You need to rat-proof everything, change the door seals, use steel garbage bins… and perform routine inspections.”
Robert McDonald is san exterminator hired by Ryerson to perform the weekly inspections, but he also sets the traps when someone reports a specific problem. A black box filled with poisoned red bait lures the mouse in. the poison takes a few hours to become effective, and McDonald insists it is very humane.
“The poison just puts the mouse to sleep, but if the problem is in an area with food, we won’t use poison traps,” he said.
McDonald says Ryerson students shouldn’t worry because there haven’t been any problems in the school’s cafeteria. And he doesn’t think the rodent population is on the rise at Ryerson.
Sly said that with winter approaching, mice are more likely to seek warmth indoors. He said the fact that mice are turning up dead is a sign that IPCM is working.
Holzworth still isn’t satisfied.
“It is still disgusting to know that we are working somewhere that at any moment a mouse could jump out at you. It’s just gross,” she said.