Dog on the rat track, keeping province rat free

BROOKS — Saskatchewan might be having a bit of a rat infestation problem but a Jack Russell terrier in southeastern Alberta did its part to keep the province rat free last week.

BROOKS — Saskatchewan might be having a bit of a rat infestation problem but a Jack Russell terrier in southeastern Alberta did its part to keep the province rat free last week.

After seeing one of the dreaded rodents disembark from a transport truck on Aug. 20 in Brooks, Eric and Ida Musgrove put their dog Roxy on its trail.

After a short altercation, the rat was dispatched by theterrier, which has been bred for such tasks.

However, containing and destroying rats in the Brooks area is something Todd Green, fieldman for Newell County, said is serious business.

“As long as we are always vigilant and watching for them we can generally take care of (the rats) before they become an infestation,” Green said.

According to media reports, Swift Current in Saskatchewan has been experiencing increased attention due to growing rat infestation problem which has lead to more concern by Alberta farmers and ranchers who haven’t seen a major rat problem in 50 years.

Cypress County assistant fieldman Geoff Brotherton said Alberta continues to be rat free despite the growing concern in Saskatchewan.

Brotherton said his range of responsibilities include looking for rats coming into the province stretches from the U.S. border north nearly 200 kilometres along Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

“But if I get a call that someone has seen a rat, it’s not, ‘well, I’ll get to it tomorrow,’ ” he said. “It’s drop what I’m doing and go.”

He added that even though the calls he has received so far have turned out to be muskrats or even gophers, all reports get checked out.

Rob Pulyk, inspector with Alberta Agriculture’s “Rat Patrol” program, said Albertans take pride in being rat free and always cooperate in reporting the rodents.

The program, which was begun more than 50 years ago, specializes in eradicating rats within provincial boundaries.

“We have a heightened awareness of (rats) and (the program) has worked so well for us,” he said.

“When there is a situation elsewhere, Albertans take notice and it brings the program to the forefront and people are pretty comfortable that the program is working well.”

As for “Rat Killer” Roxy, Newell County rewarded her efforts with a bag of doggie treats.