This roof rat was trapped in a large rat trap in Salmon Arm in December 2019. Experts say Norway rats and roof rats are typically the only rats found in B.C. (File photo)

City of Salmon Arm facilities not plagued by rats

Council responds to letters asking city not to use poison

City facilities are not being plagued by rats, but gophers have been problematic in the past.

The city received six letters from Salmon Arm residents stating the widespread use of poisons in rodent control is killing wildlife and harming greenspaces and waterways.

The letters, which appeared to be identical, said municipalities can play a key role in reducing rodenticide use and educating residents on preventative and alternative control measures.

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren asked staff if the city is using poison to kill rats.

Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s public works director, said the city doesn’t have rat problems at its facilities and hasn’t used rodenticide. He said gophers were a problem at the airport several years ago, but the city employed a contractor who trapped, not poisoned, them.

The letters noted that North Vancouver and Saanich recently passed motions to ban rodenticide use on all municipal properties, and the writers asked the city to do the same.

The letters also stated the BCSPCA has an AnimalKind accreditation program for wildlife and pest control companies.

Read more: Rats rear their pointy heads in Salmon Arm

Read more: Resident issues warning after rats found in another area of Salmon Arm

Coun. Kevin Flynn said he found it interesting that council received a barrage of letters six months to a year ago asking why council wasn’t doing something about the rat population. He said he thinks the city should make it clear to the letter writers that the city is not using rodenticides and is not working to control the rat population.

“Obviously somebody is under some kind of misinformation that the city is using rodenticides.”

He also noted the city does not have a bylaw that prevents individuals from hiring professional pest services.

Last August the city set up an information page on rodent management which is still accessible on the City of Salmon Arm website.

A HealthLinkBC page suggests using poison only as a last resort.

WildSafe BC also weighs in, suggesting that residents contact a local, reputable pest control agent if assistance is needed removing rats.

“If trapping rats yourself, avoid using techniques that cause undue suffering or poisons that can be dangerous to pets, children and other wildlife,” the WildSafe BC page states.

Coun. Louise Wallace-Richmond made note that the letters received are all the same and she suspects are part of a provincial campaign.

She said people have taken it upon themselves to email their representatives, which they are doing “through the goodness of their heart, but it wasn’t rooted specifically in a Salmon Arm issue…”

Coun. Tim Lavery suggested that if the problem in Salmon Arm gets worse, that staff inform council members so they “can share the dilemma of what to do…”

Mayor Alan Harrison said he thinks the curbside organics program has given residents an alternative to backyard composters.


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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