State spends $11,000 to fight downtown rat infestation

Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building

The state is spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to solve a rat problem in at least one state building.

Earlier this year, rats infested the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building on Punchbowl St. in downtown Honolulu. It houses state offices like the departments of Taxation and Labor and Industrial Relations.

Ryan Gersaba is the groundskeeper for several state buildings, including Keelikolani. He says a few months ago, the tax department building was infested with rats.

“There was a dead one in the vent. They couldn’t get it out, because was stuck,” he said.

“One day you could smell it, like, you just open the door and it’s just bad,” said employee Pai Tupou.

Rat trap at the Princess Ruth  Keelikolani Building
Rat trap at the Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building

Rat traps and bait stations surround the building, located every couple of feet. Employees say they noticed the traps and were also notified via email about how to help curb the problem.

“Always wash your area, because of the crumbs and stuff, and sweep out everything,” Tupou said.

According to a state report, officials spent more than $11,000 to fix the rat infestation.

KHON2 also learned rodents were a problem next door at the state attorney general’s office. State health inspectors said they did check out both buildings.

Employees at the state attorney general’s office said they even saw rat droppings and rat urine in some of the offices.

Experts say the pests can do a lot of damage.

“If they get into a building or place for a long period of time, they can do a lot of damage to wires, Internet, things of that nature,” said David Melton of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control.

That’s what the state claims the rodents did. The report said rats chewed through fiber optic cables, which resulted in the a shutdown of communication for two state offices.

That’s a big reason for the big price tag for treatment. “That is a lot of money, but for rats, it can be a lot of work,” Melton said.

The state wants to be proactive about the rats, so it will seek bids to find a contractor who can prevent this type of problem from happening again at state buildings.

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