Sunday, September 26, 2004

If it looks like a rat ... whack it

The article below blew me away. There's been several articles in the paper and on the television in the last few days about the fact that Alberta is "rat free" and how hard they're working at staying that way.

Today it occurred to me that if I lived in Alberta when I found Mrs Dingle I would've been expected to kill her rather thank rescue her.

I don't smoke marijuana but man - sit back for a second and ponder that. That is deep. Can you imagine? It would've been my civic duty and I would've been breaking the law not to kill her when I saw her on the road. There was a different article from the below one in today's Nova Scotia magazine (a Sunday supplement in the Chronicle Herald) that said the following:


Alberta's fabled rat patrol got a hand from shovel-wielding homeowners last week after dozens of rodents were dumped in a Calgary neighbourhood, threatening the province's rat-free status. Residents and animal control officers killed 37 Norway rats on a normally quiet block in southeast Calgary.

The first rodent was spotted Sept. 12. A resident was able to cover it with a margarine container.

"I could tell we were dealing with naive, almost hopeless rats," said John Bourne, who has spent 30 years with the rat patrol. "We found rats out in the open, seeking cover under structures such as a wooden sidewalk. You would never, ever get a chance to do that with a wild Norway rat. They'd never allow you to get that close."

That says to me that they were dealing with pet rats - domesticated rats - the type of rats that people like you and me treat like members of our families. So they're beating animals over the head with a shovel that we consider as precious as dogs and cats.

And this is happening in our own country.

So what's my point? My point is this - Alberta is certainly allowed to ban rodents. They can do whatever they like. They can also ban pitbulls. They can also ban lesbians and homosexuals - but I bet all those things will still exist in the province ( :) ) - but I don't think that any of them should be dealt with by hitting them over the head with shovels. They are all sentient beings like you and me and deserve to die with the same dignity as you and me and should be euthanized accordingly. If they aren't allowed to exist in Alberta then round them up and send them to where they came from, or kill them humanely - but don't make them suffer a horrible death or torture them needlessly because you see them as being a nuisance - or heaven forbid - vermin!

My "Alberta banned companion" Posted by Hello

If it looks like a rat ... whack it

From Wednesday September 22nd, 2004 Globe and Mail

Calgary — Most Canadian urbanites see rats and ignore them, but when Calgarians spy the toothy menaces around their homes they pick up brooms, sticks and shovels and start whacking.

In rat-free Alberta, most folks have never seen the rodent first-hand, but for 54 years they've been taught the only good rat is a dead rat.

“I didn't know what it was, not really,” said Warren Cucheran, who was among a group of residents who spotted unfamiliar rodent-like creatures in their southeast neighbourhood last week. “I had some suspicions, but to be quite honest I wasn't sure.”

He hit one with a broom. Another neighbour smacked some with a shovel. Then a group of residents got together and killed 24 in all.

The city was called in and as of yesterday 15 more rats were captured. Traps have been left within a block of the area, but officials think they've sniffed all the critters out.

“We will stay with this until we've got every single last one of them. We will be diligent,” said Bill Bruce, the city's animal and bylaw services manager.

Officials figure somebody who may have been illegally breeding Norway rats for live bait to feed snakes or reptiles, recently dumped them in the area.

It's worrisome for a province that boasts of being rat-free since 1950.

The program was launched with a public awareness campaign — anti-rat posters urged residents to “Kill him!” — and the establishment of a “rat patrol” to scour Alberta's boundaries with Saskatchewan and Montana for pests to poison, trap or shoot.

The province spends about $250,000 a year on rat control, but figures it has saved more than $1-billion in costs related to property damage, crop and livestock losses, and human health.

The Norway rat spread the plague throughout Europe and Asia. It eats through about one-fifth of the world's crops. It breeds rapidly. A pair can produce as many as 35,000 offspring a year.

Scientists and zookeepers can obtain permits to keep rats. But breeding rats to sell as pets or for bait is illegal and punishable under Alberta's pest-control regulation by six months in jail or a fine of up to $5,000.

“It's devastating to our ecology,” Mr. Bruce said. “Look at what one bad cow did to our beef industry. Imagine what a rat can do to our grain and feed supplies.”

John Bourne, the province's vertebrate-pest specialist, has been chasing rats for 35 years.

A couple of years ago a pet shop was selling rats, but he said it wasn't charged after officials found out the operators weren't aware of the legislation. They also managed to track down every rodent the store sold.

From time to time, Mr. Bourne has come across small infestations in rural areas, abandoned buildings and in cities, brought in by people and goods moving through the province. But after his trek to Calgary last weekend, Alberta's head rat hunter said he's has never seen so many released at one location in a city.

“I have no doubt there are underground grow operations producing rats,” he said.

He just needs tips from the public and concrete evidence to step up enforcement and charge those who are breaking the law.

“It's a frightening scenario when you look at the potential of where the rodents might be coming from,” he said. “How many people are doing this, breeding them?”

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