Alberta rat lovers don’t know what all the fuss is about

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 3, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

Their names were Mouse and Molly, and Erin Schimpf loved them dearly.

Sadly, when it came time for her family to move from B.C. to Fox Creek, Alta., nine years ago, Schimpf was forced to part ways with her beloved Dumbo rats — the fine here for keeping the long-tailed variety of pet is $5,000 or 60 days in jail.

“It was too big of a risk,” Schimpf said. “I cried for a week . . . pet rats are not like Norway rats. They are soft and cuddly.”

Norway rats have routinely made headlines in recent days after the discovery of an infestation at Medicine Hat’s landfill and one dead rodent in the Calgary community of Auburn Bay.

But while officials maintain the chances of a widespread rodent rabble are slim, the incidents have drawn Alberta’s “rat-free” strategy back into the spotlight.

A provincial spokesperson shared Monday that his team had fielded calls from as far away as Eastern Canada and even Italy asking about the tactics and results gained by Alberta’s Rat Patrol.

The group of agricultural fieldmen eliminate curious rats within a 600-kilometre long and 30-kilometre wide zone along the eastern provincial boundary.

But none of the money poured into maintaining the program makes sense to Edmonton resident Jessica Sharp, who has received hundreds of signatures on a petition advocating legal rat adoption in Alberta.

“Alberta is not rat free,” she said. “Humans need to stop pretending that they have control over that. We may not have as many wild rats as (New York City) but we are still not rat free.”

Cost of rat-free Alberta:

  • The Alberta government provides more than $340,000 annually to municipalities and counties along the Saskatchewan border to maintain a rat-free zone.

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