For centuries, Castle Island stood as a bulwark against foreign invaders. But these days, the popular South Boston park is battling domestic intruders: rats.
“They’re overwhelming; it’s infested all over the island,” said Bill Spain, president of the Castle Island Association, a nonprofit historical preservation group. “It’s really bad at night. Someone is going to get attacked.”
Spain said the group has canceled its monthly meetings at the seaside park because of concerns about members’ safety and health.
The group is not alone. State Senator Jack Hart of South Boston said that he has received a number of calls from residents complaining that the rodents are all over the island, especially in the early morning and at night.
“This is an issue that needs serious attention,” Hart said. “It seems to be more serious than it has been in the past.”
Hart said he has been communicating with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees the 22-acre site that is popular with runners, walkers, and tourists because of its sea breezes and scenic vistas.
“They’ve begun to address the problem, but we all need to work toward a solution,” he said of DCR.
S.J. Port, spokeswoman for DCR, said the agency has contracted a pest-control company.
“DCR has put in place aggressive rodent-control efforts in South Boston in the past month,” Port said. “Mitigation and baiting are in progress; however, the process will take time.”
The cause of the infestation is unclear. Port said construction at the nearby Conley container terminal may be a factor, but the Massachusetts Port Authority denied that the rats were coming from that property.
Lisa Langone, spokeswoman for Massport, said the authority has a pest-control program that includes monthly visits by specialists.
Spain said something needs to be done, and quickly.
“We need a united front on this,” he said. “We need a Pied Piper.”
Patrick D. Rosso can be reached at email@example.com