LETTER: Reader seeks city action on rat problem in Vernon

Rat traps aren’t enough, Vernon man says

To the Editor,

In the Dec. 20, 2019, edition of the Vernon Morning Star there was an article entitled Vernon council briefs: Rats… The short article stated, among other things, the rats that invaded City Hall were taken care of with traps. The only advice given to anyone concerned about rats was the following: call an exterminator. Good advice if there is an infestation that may require rat poison with its potential for “collateral damage,” i.e., accidentally poisoning hawks, owls, pets and children. Even when using rat traps, the potential for mechanical collateral damage must be taken into consideration.

Rats, once limited to coastal B.C. communities, are now found as far east as the Kootenays and as far north as Kamloops. We live on Mission Hill. I have dispatched eight rats in our yard. Our neighbour’s grapes and walnuts were definitely part of their diet. According to Google, controlling food sources and limiting denning areas are key to keeping rats in check. Trapping is, at best, a stop-gap measure. The black rat, also known as the ship rat, the roof rat or the house rat, is a common long-tailed rodent. A typical adult black rat’s body is up to 18.25 centimetres (7.2 inches) long, not including its 22 cm (8.7 in) tail. Each female can produce up to 40 offspring a year. Rats need to gnaw to keep their constantly growing incisor teeth worn down. They damage woodwork, plastics and will strip insulation from electrical cables in houses and vehicles.

Here are a few basic preventative measures the public should be aware of, namely, remove pet food from outside, minimize access to birdfeeders; keep garbage/compost containers tightly sealed; prune back vegetation around buildings and block access points to houses and sheds with 1/4-inch mesh or steel wool. If you see a rat, or its droppings, the odds are there is more than one. Keep in mind, rats are nocturnal.

This email will be forwarded to Vernon City Hall with in the hope our Mayor and councillors will consider drafting an authoritative fact sheet and a list of recommendations for dealing with the growing rat problem. Such information could be included in the city’s quarterly utility bills and/or be made available on the city’s website. Hopefully our municipal officials will come up with appropriate information and an action plan.

Lloyd Atkins

Vernon, B.C.

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