Denver's Liberty Park shut down by rat explosion: The politicians aren't the only rats on Cap Hill anymore

Denver's Liberty Park shut down by rat explosion: The politicians aren't the only rats on Cap Hill anymore

"This is an immediate threat to public health"

VicesJanuary 15, 2020 By Will Brendza

Ahhh Denver, the Mile-High City, the gleaming capitol of this spectacular state. It has everything: fresh air, mountain views, good food and drink, music, city traffic, a swelling homeless camping problem and now, a serious rat infestation that has closed a city park a stone’s throw from the Colorado State Capitol building.

That rat infestation and the homeless camping problem are actually one in the same. Just weeks ago, a County judge ruled against and overturned Denver’s camping ban. So, police stopped enforcing it, allowing tent cities to pop up like weeds in places like Liberty Park.

Those encampments, and specifically that one in Liberty Park, were full of garbage, uneaten food, scraps and snacks which attracted hordes of hungry rats. They came out of the woodwork, out of the sewers and out of the drainage beds, to feast upon the buffet their homeless benefactors were providing.

Now, the problem has gotten so serious at Liberty Park, that the City has actually closed the area (which essentially acts as the front lawn of the capitol building). And they don’t seem to have a definitive estimate for when it will reopen. It could be weeks, City officials say, as they try and figure out how to deal with the rats.

“This is an immediate threat to public health and the environment,” Tammy Vigil, spokesperson for the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment, told the Denver Post. Adding that, one of their employees said the rat problem at Liberty Park was the worst she’d ever seen.

They are many and they are not small.

“The reason the rats are so big is because of all the food that’s left there — all the food waste that’s not thrown away,” Vigil said.

Wild rats are disgusting creatures. They carry diseases like bubonic plague, they spend their days roaming the underground, digging through garbage, wading through sewage, and they’re dubious too: older rats test to see if food is poisoned by allowing their young to eat first.  

They aren’t great neighbors, to put it politely (in fact they fucking suck). Which is why the city has closed the park for the foreseeable future and hired a private contractor to come in and handle the rat problem.  

These rats, known as Norway rats or brown rats, normally live along the banks of creeks and rivers. And they stay put, once they dig in. If a rat colony infests an alley, a basement, building, or a park (like Liberty Park), they will stay there forever — unless they’re disturbed.

Which is the City of Denver’s only real option here: disturb the fuck out of these things. Sadly for the rats (and animal rights nutjobs) the best way to do that is with an all-out rat-holocaust. The private contractor hired by the City will not likely be taking any prisoners or showing much mercy to these pests — they’re probably drawing up grand plans for their extermination campaign, as you read this.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Police are expected to soon resume enforcement of the camping ban. Turns out, letting people build tent cities wherever they want and hang out for however long they feel, isn’t a great city-management strategy.