“Have been coming here for quite some time, always a solid spread on the lawn,” one wit, posing as a rat from Potomac, wrote. “A bit of a human infestation, but I have been assured the park service is handling it.”
Some were outraged.
“I have never seen so many rats in a public place brazenly frolicking as in Dupont,” one comment noted. “I want the Park Service to relocate a couple of Rock Creek coyotes to the circle since clearly they are doing nothing about this public health menace.”
Though there is, of course, no actual rat sanctuary operating in Dupont Circle, the Park Service is aware of the faux post, first reported by Washingtonian, and said it is working to combat rats in the area. The agency said it will partner with D.C. in a $55,000 program to combat rats at 46 sites the Park Service oversees within city limits.
“D.C. staff will not only assist in treating rats in NPS areas, but will also make recommendations to make our parks less habitable for rats,” Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the Park Service, said in a statement. “The NPS and D.C. Department of Health are working together to create a rat-free D.C. by simplifying the process to report rats and decreasing the response time for treatment of affected parks.”
Though the Yelp posting evidently fooled MapQuest, where the rat sanctuary now appears, Litterst said it wasn’t a factor in the new partnership with D.C., which has been in the works for months. Rattus norvegicus populations come and go with development and public events, and the city and the feds want to keep them under control.
Litterst didn’t know if the D.C. rat population was up or down, and statistics weren’t available Wednesday from the D.C. Department of Health. But as anyone who’s been surprised by a four-legged friend in an alley knows, the problem is bigger than one circle.
“I wish I could tell you that Dupont is the only place that has rats,” Litterst said.