When the solar goes down, the rats of Vancouver’s Burrard Skytrain Station emerge, in a scurrying blur of fur and whipping tails.

Dozens of them, massive and small, scamper round a park in entrance of the downtown station, operating up and down the steps among the many legs of commuters and a cautious reporter.

Some seem like feasting on birdseed scattered on the bottom.

Pest management consultants recommend the skin-crawling scene could also be on account of a provincial ban on a kind of rat poison, in addition to different elements together with Vancouver’s unusually heat winter.

Ashley Cochrane with Vancouver pest management agency The X-Terminators mentioned she had watched a video of the rat “occasion” that unfolds in Artwork Phillips Park.

“Sadly, it’s positively not good to see that, you realize, for them to be so brazen … it’s a shock,” mentioned Cochrane.

She mentioned rodent-related providers have turn into a much bigger a part of their enterprise these days.

“I communicate with lots of people on the cellphone and the consensus is we’ve by no means had this downside earlier than and now there’s simply much more exercise that we’re seeing,” mentioned Cochrane.

SEE ALSO: Victoria rated the seventh rattiest city in all of Canada

Invoice Tough, a pest management specialist with Surrey-based Advance Pest Management, mentioned he not too long ago responded to a rat infestation in a downtown Vancouver duplex.

He set 30 to 40 traps. However inside half an hour, he received a name from the client saying they’d heard the traps going off.

“I got here again and there have been 9 rats within the traps … and so they have been the scale of a small cat,” mentioned Tough.

He mentioned rat-related calls have gone up 30 to 40 per cent up to now 18 months. “It has been gripping loopy these days,” mentioned Tough.

In January 2023, the province banned some forms of anticoagulant rodenticides, saying they posed a threat to animals that eat poisoned rodents, resembling hawks, and owls.

Pets or kids is also in danger, the federal government mentioned, and solely “important providers” resembling hospitals and meals manufacturing amenities have been exempted.

Tough mentioned the ban was one of many foremost causes for the rise in rat exercise within the Decrease Mainland.

He mentioned the federal government ought to “tweak” the coverage by permitting folks to make use of the banned rodenticide with warning in infested areas.

“I don’t see why that will be an issue (however) that’s not my determination, sadly,” mentioned Tough.

Jason Web page, common supervisor with Options Pest Management, mentioned many elements contributed to the rise in rodent exercise, together with the poison ban, milder winter temperatures offering higher breeding cycles, elevated meals availability from yard rooster coops and restaurant patios, and elevated city growth.

Web page mentioned the poison ban was “well-intentioned.”

“Nevertheless, with each motion, there may be at all times a response. On this case, the obvious response we’re seeing seems to be a 50 per cent enhance in rats and mice,” mentioned Web page.

Jay McIntyre, a service supervisor with Options Pest Management who oversees rodent work in Higher Vancouver, mentioned he had additionally seen a video of the rats outdoors Burrard station.

“It’s not regular, however it doesn’t come as a shock,” mentioned Mclntyre.

He’s been within the pest management trade since 1996 — he mentioned considered one of his profession highlights was trapping 65 rats in a single home.

Mclntyre mentioned his firm has seen a “regular enhance” of about 50 per cent in calls about rats up to now a number of years.

Though pest management corporations are assured in regards to the spike in rodent exercise in Metro Vancouver, most municipal authorities lack onerous information.

The cities of Surrey, Richmond and New Westminster mentioned they don’t have information on rat-related calls

Nevertheless, a Metropolis of Vancouver spokesperson mentioned they obtained 1,174 calls about rats on the town’s 3-1-1 cellphone line final yr, in comparison with 1,141 in 2022.

Kaylee Byers is a senior scientist with the Pacific Institute on Pathogens, Pandemics and Society at Simon Fraser College, who additionally calls herself a “rat detective.”

She mentioned the dearth of a complete system for rat sightings makes it onerous for wildlife biologists to inform if populations are rising.

“​​The factor is, no one truly is aware of and that’s as a result of we don’t have any type of municipal systematic reporting system for rats and rat sightings within the metropolis,” mentioned Byers.

“One of the best factor we have now is type of anecdotal proof, which is calls to pest management professionals, however that information isn’t excellent as a result of not everyone will name a pest management skilled.”

In 2013, Byers joined the Vancouver Rat Challenge, an try to observe and examine rat actions across the metropolis. Her crew as soon as captured greater than 700 rats within the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

She mentioned cities in B.C. ought to comply with the lead of rat-free provinces, like Alberta, in addition to put money into rat administration packages tailor-made in another way to each metropolis primarily based on its rat populations.

“Rats are part of our cities, and managing them is a fancy difficulty,” she mentioned.

“A part of the issue is that we’re approaching it prefer it’s a easy one. See a rat, take away a rat, or kill a rat, and it’s not working. We have to assume extra broadly, we have to handle it as a fancy difficulty in an effort to give you progressive and a number of options to managing rats now and sooner or later.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Feb. 8, 2024.


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