Some residents in the Hillcrest area of Salmon Arm have been trying to get rid of unwanted rats. (Pixabay)

Rats rear their pointy heads in Salmon Arm

City joins neighbouring B.C. Interior communities coping with repellent rodents

The pitter patter of little feet is creating consternation for some Salmon Arm residents.

Sylvia Martin lives in the Hillcrest neighbourhood on 18th Street SE. She says rats are a growing problem in the city.

“I think part of the problem for Salmon Arm is people are in the dark; they don’t realize there’s an issue. A lot of people aren’t seeing them.”

Sylvia and her spouse Claude hired a trapper to rid their property of the rodents, which she thinks are being attracted by the alluring scent of neighbours’ backyard composters. The Martins began trapping rats in July and managed to confine them to one area of their woodpile, yet still this week they caught three. Sylvia says she’s taken down her birdfeeders, also an attractant. She’s heard rumours of rats in other parts of the city and would like to know what can be done to eradicate them.

“Nobody wants to see a mouse, but rats – they’re just gross.”

Along with the Martins, Rod Schumacher, also a Hillcrest resident, has written to city council, hoping the city can do something while the number of rats is still relatively small. Mayor Alan Harrison asked for it to be put on the agenda in six weeks, so council would have time to speak with other communities at the Union of BC Municipalities convention.

At Buckerfield’s in Salmon Arm, rat chat is common. Alyssa Zettergreen says staff were just having a conversation about the rodents before being contacted by the Observer because someone was asking if the city is going to do anything about them.

The store has seen sales of rat traps and poison increasing.

“Last year we definitely did not hear a lot about rats – more mice, but this year we’re hearing more about rats.”

Although the rat problem appears to be relatively new to Salmon Arm, the long-tailed creatures have been rearing their pointy heads in other parts of the Interior for a while.

Rats around the Interior

A pest control company, Orkin, keeps track of its rodent (mice and rat) treatments per year per city, so larger centres figure prominently. In 2018, Vancouver was number 1, with Kelowna 7 and Kamloops 14.

In Revelstoke, 2015 and 2016 were vintage years for vermin proliferation. Because the city was receiving a lot of complaints and demands for action, it struck up a partnership with Interior Health to provide education, explains interim city administrator Dawn Low.

A health nurse was invited to give a presentation to city council, which packed council chambers. As a follow-up, an evening session was held at the community centre.

“The public responded to it really well. They really appreciated the information,” Low says.

She didn’t go so far as to say the rodents are gone, but noted no complaints have been heard in the last couple of years.

Read more: Rat problem arises in the Shuswap

Read more: Feature Friday: The rats have moved in

Read more: Rats drive Okanagan city into top-20

Read more: Rats, rodenticides and what’s right

Read more: Freeze out your home from unwanted pests

In Vernon, Geoff Gaucher, manager of protective services, says there are rats in Vernon as there are everywhere in the province. He says milder winters of late are helping keep the species healthy.

However, rats in the city appear to be decreasing, especially when food sources like bird seed and cat food are being removed. He estimates he gets about 10 email rat complaints a year, plus one or two about marmots.

Similar to other municipalities, Vernon does not have a bylaw that encompasses wildlife, and rats are considered wildlife. The provincial government publishes material on what property owners can do, as rats are considered a homeowner’s responsibility.

Gaucher says there’s a stigma around rats – that they’re only attracted to dirty properties, but it’s not true. One person called him to complain about rats at a home with an immaculate yard. That’s because it was one with a source of water and food – a fountain and a bird feeder.

At the Regional District of Central Okanagan, which encompasses Kelowna and West Kelowna, communications officer Bruce Smith says rat complaints have been ongoing for a number of years and tend to be cyclical, escalating and then dropping off.

The regional district doesn’t provide services, but refers people to pest control companies or HealthLink BC. It does sell composting units and encourages residents to compost properly.

WildSafe BC is a source of information about all things rat. For instance, a pair of rats could theoretically produce more than 900 offspring within a single year. Rats are not native to B.C. and can devour crops, threaten ground-nesting birds and spread disease.

In Penticton, communications manager Philip Cooper says he’s not aware of any rat issues, although the city has a brochure on rat prevention.

“We have more complaints about deer recently than we do about rats.”

Cooper does have a personal rat story. He lives in Summerland and has to take his vehicle to be repaired next week. Although the two most common rats in the Interior are Norway and roof rats, what’s been identified as a pack rat crawled up into his engine and chewed through wires before making a bed of sorts with various debris, including a piece of cactus, on the gasket covers. Engine lights are now on permanently and the thermometer thinks its minus-40 Celsius outside. The chewing on wires is apparently common for rats, according to ICBC.

@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Rats have moved inland from the Coast and warmer winters may be helping them survive. (File photo)

Just Posted

Salmon Arm! Burly boxer of arcade game fame calls Shuswap community home

Bear Hugger is one of the opponents players face in 2009’s Punch Out!!! for the Nintendo Wii.

Eugene the goat feared taken from Shuswap community

Nigerian Dwarf goat may have been picked up by a motorist

Deaths on popular Shuswap trail ruled accidental

B.C. Coroners Service reports on fatal falls in May and July 2019

Update: Highway 1 between Salmon Arm and Sicamous partially reopens

Westbound traffic delayed as crews recover a vehicle

Potholes plentiful in Salmon Arm’s industrial park

City says patching effort underway, residents can report potholes on city’s website

UPDATE: Protesters say they will maintain blockade near Chase “as long as it takes”

Goal is to see RCMP removed from Wet’suwet’en territory

Petition seeks to remove local police department from Lindsay Buziak murder case

American woman starts online petition in hopes of helping Buziak family

Study says flu vaccine protected most people during unusual influenza season

Test-negative method was pioneered by the BC Centre for Disease Control in 2004

Saskatchewan and B.C. reach championship round at Scotties

British Columbia’s Corryn Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B

‘Chain reaction pile up’ closes southbound traffic on Coquihalla Highway

Black Press Media has reached out to RCMP, paramedics for details

Federal minister to speak in North Okanagan

Greater Vernon Chamber welcomes middle class prosperity minister to talk money

B.C. lawyer, professor look to piloting a mental-health court

In November, Nova Scotia’s mental-health court program marked 10 years of existence

EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be… Continue reading

COLUMN: Not an expert on First Nations government structures? Then maybe you should calm down

Consider your knowledge about First Nations governance structures before getting really, really mad

Most Read