Climbing to the top Mouse plague in Bonn City Hall
BONN · The mouse plague in Bonn’s city hall has spread all the way to the upper floors so that even the mayor’s office and the city treasurer are affected. The staff council is calling for better cleaning, especially in the kitchens.
Spotting mice at Bonn’s city hall isn’t anything new, but now the little rodents have worked their way up to the top floors - all the way up to the twelfth floor where Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan has his office, and to the 17th floor where City Treasurer Margarete Heidler has her bureau. Using dry humor, staff council member Christoph Busch quipped, “"Endlich ein paar Mäuse in der Stadtkasse." Literally translated, this means “"Finally a few mice in the city treasury," but the real meaning is - finally there is some more money in the city treasury because “mice” is a nickname for money in German.
A film from 1986 called “Feivel, the mouse wanderer” shows the readiness of these small mammals to move into new and unknown territory. In the movie, Feivel and his family fled from a horde of cats. But in the city hall, the mice are running away from something else. “Lots of work is going on, such as new cabling or just the maintenance of the ventilation system, so the mice are scared off and leave their usual places. They are then spotted in places where previously they had never been seen before,” said Andrea Schulte of the city press office. It gives the impression that the number of animals has increased but there is no evidence for that.
Schulte says the mice have been living in the numerous hollow cavities of the building for many years already. To adequately control the plague, exterminators routinely put out "bait in connection with traps," Schulte said. Since mice are intelligent animals, the poison only works after some time. If the animals died on the spot, other mice would no longer take the bait. The rodents move mainly through connecting shafts. They seldom come from outside to inside the city hall, explained Schulte. When holes are found in the structure, they are sealed.
Mouse infestation a serious problem
From the perspective of staff member Christoph Busch, the mouse plague is a serious problem in several ways. The staff fear that the mice might die in the ventilation ducts after swallowing the poison and pathogens would enter the offices via the air. "Besides, the city wants to be an attractive employer, how does it look when the mice run through the rooms during an interview?" asks Busch. The city has now told the staff council that it wanted to have grids built in front of the air shafts. But Busch said, "We have doubts about a positive effect." In the past, the plague had been limited to the area of the canteen on the first floor.
The staff council believes that one of the steps that could be taken to improve the situation is a thorough cleaning on every level. "At the moment, kitchens, for example, are not included in the detail description for private cleaning companies." That should be changing soon. Busch also continues to advocate that municipal staff take over the cleaning of city properties from the city hall to kindergartens and schools. Currently, the city pays six to seven million euros a year to private companies who are contracted to do the cleaning. "It would also be easier to send cleaners out quickly if cleaning in one place is not adequate." According to Busch, private services are less likely to correct such issues. But the concept of a city-owned cleaning company has not found a majority in the city council, even if there is sympathy for this idea in the ranks of the opposition. The fear is that the costs would be much higher than outsourcing the cleaning to private companies.
(Orig. text: Philipp Königs, Translation: ck)