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Rat problems plague Port aux Basques

A rat munches on some garbage near a storm drain. – © Dorota Wronska / Pixabay

PORT AUX BASQUES – “It’s been a summer dealing with rats,” said Mayor John Spencer at the most recent meeting of council on Tuesday, Aug 18.

Spencer has been actively investigating a multitude of complaints from several regions within town to help determine the extent of the rat problem. The mayor cited Grand Bay, Lemmytown and East End Channel as areas of the town where the infestations seem to be getting worse.

Residents have been complaining more frequently about the increased number of rats on their property that are chewing through wooden garbage boxes to get at the bags and leaving a mess in their wake. Even placing multiple traps around a garbage box doesn’t seem to be a particularly effective deterrent. Rats are able to squeeze through even a minuscule opening.

“We had the pest control people go in there and they figure anywhere from 50 to 70 rats,” said Spencer of the Grand Bay infestation.

The rats did consume the poisonous substance entirely, and after that the pest control company reported trapping fewer and younger, smaller rats, but the battle against the vermin continues. Spencer says he has also noticed them on Bay Street near where he lives.

Damaged boxes and bags left out for days prior to collection only serve to exacerbate the situation.

“You’ll notice the garbage is put out there on the curb at least five to six days before pickup,” said the Mayor.

He showed photos that included garbage boxes located next to one of the town’s fire hall, which also contains garbage left out for days prior to collection and which the rats have successfully chewed their way through. Other public and commercial properties were experiencing similar problems.

“I’ve observed people mid-week carrying garbage out, even though the garbage has been picked up already. By Thursday that box is full,” noted Spencer.

One resident who is having more success in the war on rats has installed a new garbage box. It has no slats for rats to squeeze through and tight wire mesh has been placed around the outside and bottom on all sides. The resident has also lined the box with a rubber mat for easy cleaning of spilled contents and to minimize smells that might attract the rodents. In front of the box the resident has also placed a large rat trap.

“He’s got it all figured out,” said Spencer. “He says it works if you put that wire on the outside.”

A local business owner who spoke to the mayor suggested the town was to blame for closing off a sewage outfalls and forced the rats to look for food elsewhere. His commercial garbage box was soon infested.

“I said it might have something to do with that garbage you’ve got in your box,” was Spencer’s quick reply.

The mayor feels the problem is pressing enough to suggest a special rat committee headed up by Coun. Jim K. Lane, but after a brief discussion the matter was handed off to the Public Works Committee, which was instructed to suggest practical solutions to deal with the town’s rat problem. The mayor warned that he wanted recommendations and he wanted them soon, once the committee members had taken the time to thoroughly examine the problem firsthand.

“This is a serious issue,” said Spencer. “These people are tired of the rats in their area.”

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