WISDOM Good Works

Sharing Scientific Expertise to Restore Ecological Balance Around the World

The Jamaica Plain Project

Boston Massachusetts

An Innovative Approach to Rodent Control in a Boston Neighborhood Steeped in History

WISDOM Good Works is coordinating a residential effort in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston to reduce mouse and rat overpopulation while protecting local birds of prey and neighborhood cats.

This pilot project focuses on a two-block area called Hyde Square. It consists of 50 residential buildings that are a mix of single-family homes, two-family homes, townhomes and classic Boston “triple deckers.”

A group of about 15 neighbors were already committed to reducing the use of poison, and had begun using rat fertility control. More neighbors were spurred on by the death of a poisoned eagle named MK in nearby Arlington and the plight of Owen the Owl, who was often seen at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Owen nearly died after ingesting prey that had been poisoned with rodenticide and lost an eye due to the poisoning. He did recover, however, and was released from a wildlife rehabilitation service several weeks after the incident.

WISDOM Good Works Partners with the Neighborhood

WISDOM Good Works formally started our partnership with the neighborhood in January 2023. Our hope is that this 12-month project will provide a template for residential neighborhoods throughout Boston to expand the use of fertility control for mice and rats.

In this way we can successfully control our rat problem – which the rampant poison use in Boston has been unsuccessful at keeping in check – and protect pets and wildlife from the downstream effects of eating poisoned rats. Neighbors working with us have received requests to expand the pilot into other neighborhoods.

Education and Buy-In

One of the most important aspects of this project is education and successful buy-in from the neighbors. Stemming the overpopulation of mice and rats will only work if we have participation from nearly all of the residents. Our goal is a minimum 50% reduction in the mice and rats populations, which will dramatically reduce sightings and hopefully encourage all the neighbors to be part of this solution.

There are discussions in progress with local high schools and the University of Massachusetts-Boston to have students involved with this pilot program, particularly in maintaining the feeding stations for the pellets and tracking consumption.

An Historic Neighborhood

This section of Jamaica Plain has some very unique and historic buildings in it, including the home of Maud Cuney Hare, an African-American pianist, musicologist, writer and civil rights activist of the early 20th Century.

The neighborhood also has one of the most uniquely built homes in Boston, which is “dodecagonal” in shape – meaning that it has 12 sides. According to the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, it was constructed in the late 1870s by a pair of Scottish immigrants who were expert carpenters and wanted to recreate an old Scottish castle. It was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

Rats have been very successful in this neighborhood, and efforts to control them with poison haven’t worked. Many neighbors in the pilot project area are already excited to be part of this innovative and ecologically safe solution to the burgeoning rat problem.

Ways You Can Help

Our groundbreaking project needs volunteers in the greater Flagstaff, Arizona area, where we are based, to prepare supplies for use on the Jamaica Plain Project.

Specific jobs include the following:

  • Packaging of product
  • Capturing data
  • Coordinating volunteers

Interested in this once-in-a-lifetime volunteer opportunity? Live in the greater Flagstaff, Arizona area? Then please sign up here so we can keep you informed about The Jamaica Plain Project and alert you when volunteer opportunities arise.

Donate today and help bring innovative solutions to this historic region.