NER Washington forum; Rodent extermination
Rat extermination is not really merely a local problem. You just can't teach the rats to stay in the same spot. I want you just heard was not a United States representative Martha Graham France Democrat from Michigan. Our guest this week on the NE our Washington forms a weekly program concerned with the significant issues before us as a nation. This week a discussion of legislative concern toward Rhoda's exterminations within the United States. This program was produced for the national educational radio network through the facilities of WMU F3 arm American University Radio in Washington D.C.. I'm Bill Greenwood. Our guest this week is serving her seventh term as a. Congressional representative from Detroit Michigan. She is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee as well as the joint House and Senate Economic Committee. More important from the standpoint of this program. Representative Martha Graff ascends been one of the most
informed them to articulate supporters of legislation to provide federal funding for the extermination of rats in American cities. Although defeated by the House of Representatives there is speculation that the legislative attempt will be revived before the end of the 90 of Congress. Mrs. Grewe office has a first question. Would you explain why the Congress is so interested in rat extermination. Well of course perhaps it would be easier to explain why they are not interested. Why did they vote down a rule. Which meant that they refused even to discuss funding. I rat extermination to the extent of 40 million dollars in two years within the cities of the United States when at the same time they have other programs for Iran extermination on farmers their rat exterminations for warehouses where grain stores. Of course rats are terribly destructive.
It is estimated that even within cities they destroy about a billion dollars worth of goods a year. Now one of the reasons that I in my judgment it is a national problem besides being a state and local problem is the fact that rats are not really as presidential as Congressman rants move around. They go where the action is they go where the food is and no person who eats out. No person in anything can say that he is really a brat. His home may be free of Wrath. He may never have seen one but if he goes into a good restaurant in that city there is every possibility that rats have crawled across the food after coming up out of the sewer. Why that they have been throughout the restaurant climbed over the dishes and rats are really carriers of death. To me it's
incredible that any group of intelligent people wouldn't put forth every effort they could to destroy this enemy of man. Perhaps the less informed you might elaborate on your statement the grunts are carriers of Congress will. Well rats came in and out of the Arabian desert about the 12th century. They were not known in the ancient cities of the world. There are no references to rats in ancient right to our shortly after they had come into Europe. Within two or three centuries Europe was swept by the bubonic plague it was called the Black Death and it was not known for a long time that the carriers of the bubonic plague were the rats. One third of the total population of Europe was killed by the bionic leg. Rats are still carrying bubonic plague. There are even people who believe
Allah I'm not one of those that it would be quite possible for bubonic plague to sweep any area of the world today. It isn't. It is a problem in India as is typhus typhus is carried by rats. Rats carry within their body and disease about maybe dysentery to Remey and rabies and other diseases. Why should we as a nation spend billions to wipe out what we believe to be the enemies of our world. That is the Viet Cong. And yet for me as a domestic animal to spread such death and destruction as we permit a rat to do this is Gryphus do you have any figures on how many humans in this country have been injured or killed by rounds. But there are thousands of babies that are in or bitten each year within the slums of cities. The
Congress seems to feel that you are personally required to get rid of the rats in your own house and ordinarily I would say that this seems quite reasonable. The only problem with this is if you were very poor. Would you buy poison for the rat or food for the baby so that it is essential that some other method and their reliance on any particular family or any particular agency of government be initiated. We should have not only all out effort that can be made but we should have the effort. Of the national government in this. Rats don't stay in one town forever. They move into the next town where the food is or they move across a state line. Our county boundary they go where there is food. If they're shot out of one place they go another.
And no method ever every eradication has ever been found that will completely destroy them within an area so that they rebound. If you killed off 98 percent of them in a block if you lived 10 females and a couple of males and you did nothing else you could assume that within a year or so there would be 3000 additional new rights. Now some people say if you see one round it's very likely there are many many more in an area some saying that they're like an iceberg. The real. Menace is not always seen is this true. Yes I'm quite sure that's true. And has there been any figures on the rat population and in the sky. Yes I believe that the committee was saying that there are about 90 million rats how frequently and large do apply. I litter I think is about 10 rats can be as high as 10 rats and the gestation period is very short. So that
one female could expect in her three year lifetime really if nothing happened at all to stop it. She could have thousands of dissent in her life and it would seem then that we would actually have to kill off the females to destroy this if one was left. The problem would continue and I with the male Yes. You mention the possibility of bubonic plague. And if the rat population is so large Why hasn't the plague hit this country. Well I would assume it's because we have methods of control of the plague itself rather than the rat. And right. What would Congress do to alleviate this menace the way the legislation was worded in the meeting that this was to put money into the housing department so that they could work on this problem within the slum area. This would be done and through the Department of Health Education and Welfare know to be
housing an army on Housing and Urban Development. How much money was it with attached to that it was only 40 million dollars 20 million dollars for each of 2 years and it was really a very modest sum of money. What was the expectation level how many of the rats would have been filmed in that area. Well I don't know just exactly what the expectation of how many rats would be but I would assume that they would have been able to make some 25 cities comparatively rat free comparatively. That is they would have done it then. But you see the effort has to be forever because the rats keep coming. How many of your colleagues noted that they said that once we start this program it can only get larger and larger. Which is what you and imply at this moment. Now I don't imply that it must continue. It wouldn't have to get larger. It would just math continue. There also was talk and you mentioned it earlier in the show about other programs for rodent extermination. Part 1 of agriculture and health education and welfare yes.
The problem is in the bill. Why is that Mr Henry Rice of Wisconsin wanted to put the control in the Department of Health Education and Welfare. But you see the foolishness of the vote was that we never got to that problem. We simply voted down the rule which meant that we voted out the whole program but that any discussion of where it was going to be and it's quite unique as you know to vote down a rule. At least Congress usually is willing to listen to a pop up. But on this they weren't even willing to listen. There's been a great deal of talk since this moment about this very matter which you discuss and many congressman are saying that they're going to try to revive this legislation before the ninetieth Congress is over. Judging by the attitudes expressed during the past debate what do you feel are the chances for such. I think that it has a very good chance Senator Proxmire tell me that he felt sure that it would pass the Senate so that it will come back from the Senate to the house.
And at this time I think that Congress and the House will be more reasonable. Do you foresee any rewording in the legislation as originally drafted with respect to its reconsideration. Well of course it may come back in a bill where it is not alone. And the bail out is that is not the only item in the bill. Why it may come back under health and education. I Anderson circumstances it would be a sort of face saving gesture to those people who voted against the rule in the first place. And I feel confident that it will pass. I'd like to return to these existing programs and ask you to explain a little more detail why they are not effective is it because they are all areas but some of them I am Downey at. There are areas that that as in agriculture is aimed only at the rural areas so here that we are in effect saying that we value the grain of America more
than we do our children. And another argument which has been raised against this program is the administrative costs. Some say that the cost of the bureaucracy involved would exceed the actual cost of extermination. Oh this is a very great argument that is used regularly everywhere and there were others who wanted to set off that grand contro of rats and so forth and so on. All of this is of course nonsense. They're very good rat extermination programs in some cities. They would need to do is to check with those cities and use those as model copies and go see. There isn't any problem with it and it would not create a great bureaucracy there are plenty of people available in government to do this. But you see one of the problems in those areas in the city from which I come here people have learned to control them is that you must first teach the people themselves what the problem is and
one of the problems is that there must not be food available. A rat will not cross the street as I understand it until a food supply on its side of the street is gone. I if you can get everyone to keep food covered keep it out of the way. Then you would have a chance now of course one of the problems is that Iraq will go to any extent. To get to that food. One of the things which surprised me that was not known apparently even to the members of the committee who brought out the bill are rats teeth are rootless. They grow about twenty nine and a half inches in the three year lifetime of the rat. Rats have been known to chew through four and a half feet of reinforced concrete. This is
too many people. Really incredible. And yet I have had members of the house come to me since I made this speech and tell me that they knew instances within their own homes are within a grain re that they own or some other where rats had chewed through a foot or two of stone. To many people I am sure it seems impossible that this can be done and yet one of the reasons that rats do always Naing is because of that fantastic tooth grow. It has been. Found that where something occurred diseased the teeth in the upper area of that rat's head that the lower two would grow through and pierced the brain of the rat. Now if you can just shut them away from an area completely How course they will move to the
next area. And this is why I feel that it's not a merely a local problem are merely a city or merely a state problem. They will move on to another area and I feel that it is essential that we have real information and the habits of rants and on their lifecycle and on how they perform and on what we can best do to get right. When are you saying there's not enough information to know at this time concerning rance. A Well I say that there is not enough known among the people who are struggling with rats. In other words the expertise may know the information but had no right to disseminate it that is right and part of the problem is to disseminate it. I'd like to go into the physic of the rant that this is an incredible statistic and one that the news correspondents here in Washington were just amazed
by when you mention it on the floor of the House especially the teeth of these creatures. What size the body goes with a twenty nine and a half inch teeth. Only a few ounces as you are aware. Well frankly I'm not and this is well I believe that and I don't know rats weigh less than a pound. This is this is the real incredible thing and many of us have seen rats but I have never seen one with with teeth like that or at least maybe I know it's not that long the tooth is not that long not 29 and I do not like and I hate it. And no that isn't the problem the rat not the teeth I was in that perpetual gnawing gives us teeth chart. But it can if he doesn't. Yes it would but of course they never permit them to pass that long but I say continuously not that is why all is squeaking and knowing and running in the walls of the house at night and certainly to go through reinforced concrete you would have heard that you
are. Yes you would have to have quite a little knocking ability to do that. This I think is is something which frightens a great deal of people when they see examples that you like. Perhaps this informational aspect to it. Would be a good means to disseminate that information. How would you suggest it be carried out but I think that in most cities where it has been successfully done social workers have given out the information to those families that need it. Of course that middle class when Iraq gets into the area they began it wants to do something about it. And most restaurants of the country I have lying to cover the garbage and there's a tremendous effort made to see that all garbage is removed at once so that it does not drop right to that area. But in general you are ready
have a good many people working with the impoverished areas and without too much trouble I can put out the information. But they do need in time and it's a little help even a mimeograph paper and so forth and so on to put it out. You just mentioned something significant. I don't want to get bogged down in a civil rights discussion right here on this program a couple of weeks ago in a civil rights leader was critical of the defeat of this rad legislation the extermination bill. And you just have said that it is not predominant in the middle class area. He said much the same thing that this is another example of resentment by the lower classes of America that such as this was defeated by Congress do you feel that this is a valid statement. Yes I think there is resentment. I do and I have been quite amazed at their reaction to the speech I made. I at one it was carried in many papers too many people call in and offered help. And
finally I have had letters from people who are at the top of the middle. Will have written in and said when we were young we lived in an area where there were rats. One woman wrote in and said my sister in law went in one day. I had to watch the baby at sleep to see how the baby you add and there was a rat in the crib licking the baby's face. I saw that the problem is really a well understood problem and I think that Congress is going to find out that America is really not like that. Anybody have rats. There's been a great deal of ridicule directed against this legislation as you so well know. And we might discuss some of that very briefly. One of them is. The question of discrimination that the bill would discriminate against country rats instead of city rats.
Of course there has been discrimination against City or X for a long time. We have been trying for years to get rid of country acts. We can strike that then out. That is right. One congressman suggested the creation of a bug court with a director in rat extermination. And either a kept core to it one was going to have a cap CO or. But of course I think in reality all of them thought it was funny. Everyone applies any of these bills to his own experience. He believes that the things that happen where he has other things that happen every where well why didn't they look at just the amount of money expended to keep this Capitol building itself for your brats and and bugs. It's almost $5000 a year and any
congressman can tell you that it is not free. I've read some roaches that it is a terrible problem. I have a strong suspicion that any of the food we're eating in the capital. Has every possibility. I having been tasted my right. The point I was trying to make and I think you are grasping this is the fact that ridicule was attached to this bill and it was the center of joshing and joking and you feel perhaps this resulted in some part with the defeat of the measure. Oh course it defeated absolutely defeated it and the at theory of each congressman that everybody should take care of their act in his own law. And this is something else that I might ask you to. Discuss and that is why city and state governments are incapable themselves in eradicating this problem.
Well I understand that New York City. I sense the defeat of the rat that one has appropriated five million dollars by the defeat of the extermination of rats in New York City. Now the only problem with that it is can you teach the rats to stay in New York City. Well of course you can't you can't even teach the rats to stay in the state of New York. The moment you start running them out of New York they're going to go into the neighboring cities and the neighboring states. So that it seems to me that there is some federal responsibility. This isn't a local problem. This isn't a person's hospital problem only this is a national problem. Perhaps if we run them out of New York some of the neighboring states will get on the bandwagon and complain and date in Maryland says Kohut is a New York City campaign the war on rants. And would you suspect other states and cities themselves will pick up this banner.
I think many of them will because I think that and general no one estimated their reaction to the defeat of this bill. People are just shocked. I understand that those who voted against it have had more letters asking them to explain their vote than they have ever had on any of the B.O. ever voted against. Secondly I might say that in all the years I have been in Congress I have never had anyone write me and ask me for a copy of the record so that they could see how their own congressman voted on the any bill. But I had three letters from various areas of the country asking me please send me the record I would like to know how my own congressman voted and I didn't even know who their own congressman were but I set the record. I think this is about an observation judging by the comments from a newsman who might Capitol Hill their beat. Here's a bill which actually was fairly
insignificant in terms of dollars compared to others and this tremendous uproar when the vote was taken. Yes I think this may be a real indication of truth to the to the comments we keep hearing that the bill is coming up and it's not down yet. Yes I agree. Another point which is worried many people however is do we limit this type of congressional involvement to rats alone. Some colleagues as you know say that poisonous night accounted for more injuries than rats and we should therefore eradicate snakes all Christ that's absolutely ridiculous. Poisonous snakes have not counted for anything even close to the death that rats have carried. Even in India today only 30000 people a year are killed by snakes and of course Indians don't kill snakes. I would say that there are relatively few people being killed by snakes in this country
and there are very few areas in which you have poisonous snakes. There are states that are totally free of poisonous snakes but there is no state in the United States and there is no city that is free of rats. Would you say that of the the animal kingdom that rats were good the most dangerous in this country if I was say that that's quite true. But you see people don't really think of it that way that many people don't they don't realize that these little creatures have probably did levered more death and destruction to the human race than all of the wars we've ever had. One of the congressman said to me I think that statement is wrong. When you said that they wiped they have wiped out more people and Hitler and his gun. How can you prove it. And I said all you have to do is look back to the bubonic plague in Europe.
Not even yet or killed a third of the population. The real truth is that Iraq is its own a lot Tom a bomb is nature's own atomic bomb set loose in any city and of course they really cover the earth well with the reproduction right which you so well outlined at the first of that show I can see how that would be possible. Don't you think though that this type of legislation might set a precedent for other types of federal involvement in similar problem areas. If the problem is nationwide then why shouldn't the federal government get involved. If you see if one city solves that for itself only to push the problem up on its neighbors. Is that fair. It Be by better disarray to solve a problem universally. One of my listeners sent him a question for you and they wanted to know if there is a difference between what's known as a brown around and a great rat is a brown
rat and a black Graco micro add a rat. At first the black rat prevailed in America the only rat and the only war that has ever been won against any right. One by rats the brown rats drove out the background and they've been quite successful. The black grads now exist in parts of South America and some other parts of the air that the bound rats drove them out of the United States. So the black rat would probably be less mentally or dangerous is it. No not necessarily at all. Just last night about their life they want to defend themselves against Brown right. Were the mice fit into this question. Well I dress yes I would assume they were dangerous but they don't do anything like the destruction and they doubt care half the problems that are happening. The thing that rap guys and of course they don't have those long gnawing teeth. It is known I
do some yes oh yes and they are a problem but they are much more easily controlled by each person in his home and erratic. What would you see then as the ultimate solution you mentioned having people cover their garbage cans and places where rats could feed is going to be the real solution why is there some chemical that can kill these things. Yes Chicago has a solution. With your ass in cascade with telling me that Chicago puts out a sort of candy and that the rat chokes to the justice system will not permit it to re burgers that I jested process that as it cannot regurgitate anything in the. AD But there is no ultimate solution to the control of rats. They were bad men have to go live at the bottom is going to go on. Therefore the solution must continue. So we are going to have to have a continuing campaign right and say right this is good
- NER Washington forum
- Rodent extermination
- Producing Organization
- WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- United States Representative Martha Griffiths, D-Michigan, on legislative action regarding rodent extermination in the United States.
- Other Description
- Discussion series featuring a prominent figure affecting federal government policy.
- Public Affairs
- Media type
Host: Greenwood, Bill
Producing Organization: WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters, WAMU-FM (Radio station : Washington, D.C.)
Speaker: Griffiths, Martha W. (Martha Wright), 1912-2003
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-24-26 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “NER Washington forum; Rodent extermination,” 1967-09-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3j393x7j.
- MLA: “NER Washington forum; Rodent extermination.” 1967-09-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3j393x7j>.
- APA: NER Washington forum; Rodent extermination. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3j393x7j