BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The East Baton Rouge Parish Mosquito Abatement and Rodent Control are getting some new gear to help kill mosquitoes. The price tag? $4,549,533.00 on a new helicopter. Assistant Director Randy Vaeth said the agency is long overdue for an upgrade.
“As our chief says, it’s like driving around in a 1974 Winnebago at 300 feet,” said Vaeth.
On Wednesday, members of the East Baton Rouge Metro Council approved the agency to amend their 2022 current expense budget for the purchase.
“The council actually approves our budget and approves big ticket items for us,” said Vaeth. “Right now, one of our airplanes is being used, we’re kind of cannibalizing it for parts to keep the other one airworthy,” said Vaeth.
While this is money the agency already has, there was some pushback on approving tax dollars on a pricey new helicopter.
“We know the public is going to be concerned about the expenditure but we think this will ultimately be more effective,” said Vaeth.
Vaeth said the helicopter will make the management of mosquitos more widespread making it easier to treat standing water with bacterial toxins, especially after flooding.
“When you have to fly at 300 feet, the spray cloud, the distribution, we weren’t getting it where we needed to all the time. With a helicopter you’re flying at 75 feet,” said Vaeth.
Vaeth said with all the big rain events in our area, it’s just better to stay prepared.
“Within 20 years we’ve seen four new species of mosquitoes show up. We’re not on the cutting edge, we’re just catching up to some of the best technology,” said Vaeth.