Rat and rodent populations are on the rise in British Columbia, due in part to climate change.
One morning last winter as I started my truck, the “check engine” light came on and the engine seemed to run roughly.
I backed out of the driveway and headed to work but the truck was down on power and didn’t seem to be running on all eight cylinders. I took the truck straight to the dealership and when the service department called later that day, they had found a rat’s nest underneath the plastic engine shroud in the engine compartment.
The rats had chewed through the rubber insulation on the ignition wires and there was no spark to one cylinder. They told me the problem was fixed and I could pick up the truck up at any time, but the repair was a few hundred dollars.
The service department staff said some things that sounded ominous. First, I was lucky that the bill was so small as it could have easily been much worse. They also said they’re repairing more and more rat-damaged wiring harnesses all the time – for so many customers, in fact, that they had started collecting old discarded ignition wire sets to salvage pieces and make rat repairs less expensive.
They said they’d never seen so many rat repairs before. This was in Duncan. Other car dealerships report similar situations in other cities in BC.
Looking for explanations and solutions
The rise of rodents in British Columbia has been reported in the media more than once recently. Communities like Kelowna, Nanaimo and Parksville are experiencing unusually large rat and mouse infestations. The situation has worsened to the point that people are looking for explanations and interest in rodent control has peaked.
The most logical answer seems to be climate change. Much longer summer seasons present perfect conditions for exponential growth in rodent populations. Rats are seasonal migrants. In the summer, they prefer to live outside, foraging and thriving in outdoor areas where natural food supplies are plentiful.
But every year when the temperatures start to dip down to zero, rats go looking for a warm place to live where there is food and shelter from winter weather. The longer the summer, the more rats and mice there are heading indoors.
In Buckerfields we know that rat and mouse populations are growing. Our customers are telling us about it and our sales of rodenticides and traps are increasing beyond expectations.
Even with ordering more and more product every year, we still run out of stock in the fall and resupply is slow because the entire supply chain for rodenticides is being challenged by the growth in rodent populations.
The Current Regulatory Framework
The gold standard for regulating pesticides and rodenticides in Canada is not the provincial government or our municipal governments. It’s Health Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), in short, the federal government.
PMRA is the federal organization within Health Canada which has statutory responsibility for testing pesticides and rodenticides for safe use by Canadians.
Based on PMRA testing and reports, Health Canada decides if a pesticide or rodenticide can be sold to the public. If so, Health Canada gives the product something called a PCP identification number which must be printed on the label of the product.
Health Canada also specifies instructions for safe use of the product to be printed on the label. Every pesticide and rodenticide in Canada is required to be tested and labelled in this manner. Products which do not meet Health Canada’s scientific requirements cannot be offered for sale.
PMRA retests every product every five years and the reports are available to the public. Every legal pesticide and rodenticide product is listed on Health Canada’s website and the requirements for safe use are published there. Also, the studies which PMRA conducts can be obtained from the website.
Support for Health Canada and PMRA needed
We need to support Health Canada and PMRA. With global warming and questions arising about climate change, we need to invest more in them than ever before. Our scientific agencies are under tremendous pressure to answer environmental questions, some of which are almost unanswerable. We can’t win the battle of the environment with politics. We can only win with properly conducted scientific enquiry by agencies like PMRA.
Questions about the safety and impact of pesticides and rodenticides should be directed to PMRA and Health Canada. Unsatisfactory answers should be taken up with elected MPs and federal Ministers.
Unless we want rats and all manner of things interfering with our lives and our health, from our engine compartments to our food supplies, we need products to deal properly with elements in our environment like rats, wasps, tent caterpillars, cutworms, house flies and disease-bearing agents that have biological agendas that conflict with our own.
We need honest scientific agencies to tell us the truth about what to do, what is safe and what is environmentally sound. With the help of such agencies, we can be confident in the products we use.
A favourite supplier to farmers, pet owners and homesteaders in British Columbia since 1919, Buckerfields operates nine locations throughout the province, from Salmon Arm to Saanichton.