Alberta’s much-celebrated status as a rat-free province may be in danger.
That’s because a Norway rat was recently discovered in northeast Calgary. And where there’s one rat, there may well be others.
Furthermore, an infestation of the creatures in Swift Current, Sask., has some Albertans worried that the rodents may find their way into the southern part of this province — via trucks, trains or even holiday trailers.
Fortunately, pest-control experts are hot on the case in Calgary.
Although officials are refraining from identifying the neighbourhood involved, pest-control personnel are taking the issue seriously.
That’s a good thing because rats can spread bacteria, viruses and parasites, and destroy crops and personal property.
The rat that was caught in Calgary was destroyed, thank goodness. No matter what some animal-rights activists might believe, there’s no solution to vermin that beats death.
It simply isn’t practical to relocate rats — and if it were, who wants more rats?
British Columbia and Saskatchewan residents certainly won’t want any of the rodents discovered in Alberta, so the only solution is track them down and kill them.
Amazingly, in Swift Current there were even reports of people being bitten by rats while they slept.
Aside from the risk of disease that poses, that sort of occurrence is the stuff of which nightmares are made.
Calgary bylaw spokesman Bill Bruce notes that it’s crucial to respond to a rat infestation as soon as possible because the creatures can reproduce extraordinarily quickly. One breeding pair can produce 15,000 offspring in three years.
Four rat burrows have been spotted in the Calgary neighbourhood and it’s believed there could be up to five of the animals living in the northeast neighbourhood, Bruce says.
Poison bait traps have been set to catch the rats.
No expense should be spared in finding and destroying these vermin.
After all, if there are rats in Calgary and they are not destroyed, it may not be long before we have rats in Red Deer and other Alberta communities.
And who wants that?
Mickey Mouse may be cute, but rats are anything but.
Fortunately, Alberta’s rural-based Norway rat control program — in effect since 1950 — has so far been remarkably successful.
However, we can’t let our guard down now.
All Albertans should be vigilant in looking for rats in both urban and rural settings.
If you see a rat, call the Alberta Rat Patrol at 780-853-8124.
Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.