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Mice take over Montgomery County office buildings

Wednesday - 2/29/2012, 7:54am  ET

mouse on sticky pad (WTOP/Kate Ryan)
This deceased fellow was found in the Office of Consumer Protection when WTOP took a look behind the furniture. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

Kate Ryan, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Investigators in Montgomery County's Office of Consumer Protection can smell a rat a mile away, but it's the mice that caught them by surprise.

One investigator still shudders when she thinks about the unwanted guest in her office.

The investigator says something caught her eye, so she glanced over. There it was, right next to her computer screen and manila folders -- a living, breathing mouse.

"It was sitting on my desk," she said.

What was it doing?

"Oh, I didn't stay long enough to find out," said the woman, who didn't want to be named.

Instead, she just grabbed her purse and took off.

In a briefing on the impact of county budget cuts, Montgomery County Government Employees Organization President Gino Renne told councilmembers they aren't alone with their mouse problem.

"We see government buildings that are pest-infested," Renne said.

The buildings include the county council's sixth floor offices, where one startled person alerted co-workers to the presence of mice by letting out a scream.

Renne said budget cuts are to blame because cleaning crews have been cut and the trash gets taken out less frequently.

Eric Friedman, director of the Office of Consumer Protection, says the whole staff is pitching in to help. Staffers are more careful about eating food at their desks and bringing in snacks.

"We have bait set up around the office" and glue traps, he said.

Curious about just how bad the problem is, WTOP took a look behind some furniture with an office staffer. On the very first check, a dead mouse was spotted in a glue trap.

Asked if workers are complaining about the mice and subsequent need for disposal, Friedman merely pointed to the mouse in the trap.

"They have the ultimate complaint," he said.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)