I believe Alberta Agriculture and the city of Medicine Hat
have so far handled this whole rat control and eradication project extremely
I could say something snide like “they should now take their
rat control model and apply it to Ottawa, or Washington or Wall Street”, but I
won’t. That wouldn’t be kind.
I know Alberta isn’t back to its Rat Free status yet, but
these folks have really jumped on the issue and are putting every measure in
place to deal with these varmints that showed up at the Medicine Hat landfill a
couple weeks ago. And it is a tough job. I remember reading a National
Geographic article on rats years ago, and the damn things are just about
They reproduce at the rate of something like – one mating
pair equals 15,000 rats per year; they can chew through steel; squeeze through
a hole the size of a quarter; and they can live on nothing — they are really a
challenge. (Photo Caption: Photo below shows what I understand is the average size rat found in Alberta)
I read in this morning’s paper, so far they have killed 142
rats at Medicine Hat, they have an ongoing and expanding bating program, and
overall they have about 60 people focused on eradicating these rats from the
landfill and surrounding area.
I hope they are successful, because I hate rats. They really
creep me out. Mice, rats, snakes – they are my top three species that could
become extinct and I would not shed a tear. I had a short-term friend in
Cranbrook, B.C. many years ago and she got into snakes as pets and she also
raised rats to feed the snakes. It was a very short-term friendship. God! And
she thought it was like normal.
If the Alberta Rat Patrol needs any help with this project,
I can share the long- standing and very successful Hart Rat Control Program —
As a kid growing up in Eastern Ontario there were always
rats around on the farm. Not many, mind you but every once in a while one would
show up. And with plenty of old buildings, barns full of hay, dairy ration and
hog ration — an ideal environment — you’d think we’d be over run with rats. But
there were always about 10 barn cats in the milking stable, and I credit them
for keeping rats and mice under control.
The odd time you would see evidence — the bottom corner of a
bag of dairy ration might be chewed open — but it never became a widespread
problem. Maybe that’s one reason I’ve always loved cats. They keep my world
free of rats.
And it was a good thing. I remember in one barn there was a
granary bin for oats, and in the top board of the bin there was a two-inch
diameter hole about an inch from the top of the board. Dad said it was a bullet
hole made one time when he used an old 303 rifle to shoot a rat that was
running along the top of the board. He missed. So the job was left to the cats.
I also remember one time a rat got into the house, somehow
made it’s way into the old cellar. My mother could hear it gnawing its way into
a bottom cupboard in the kitchen.
Miss Marion wasn’t going to stand for that, so she set out a couple of
the large wooden rat traps in the cupboard, and she had that beggar nailed and
removed within a day or two. That’s only one I recall in the house. (Photo Caption: Who in their right mind wouldn’t want these little guys(below) protecting their house from vermin?)
We had a boarder stay at our house one time. He was working
on the St. Lawrence Seaway, so that goes back a few years. His home was about
40 miles away, but I remember Jim telling a story about the rat problem they
had in their area. Someone put a baby to bed in its crib and in the morning
they discovered it had all these rat bites on it lips – from a rat that was
attracted by baby formula….yuck.
That was a story I never forgot.
So I am not into rats at all. I know they create problems
for farmers, but also I don’t want to be thinking they might be slinking around
my garage or under my deck or anything like that. I am fully behind the
government to put whatever resources are needed into getting the rats out of
Alberta. They can spend the $16 billion Heritage Trust Fund on the project,
call in the military, evacuate the city and torch it…whatever it takes.
And this may be a very good time to talk my wife into
getting a cat. She is not a cat person. But with this looming threat of a rat
infestation and increased risk of bubonic plague, a cat would not only be a
pet, but a real guardian of our health and safety. I could give her an
ultimatum, either we get a cat or a python. It is worth a try.
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at [email protected]
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