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“Increased lines of communication and advanced technology mean better response times to reported rat sightings and improvements in keeping Alberta rat free,” says Karen Wickerson, rat and pest program specialist at the Alberta government. “Along with the Rat Control team we have made some enhancements to Alberta’s rat control program.”
A dedicated email address to report rat sightings and a live cam are two tools the team has added to a program that has been around since 1950. Last year, the Rat Control team introduced [email protected].
“With the new email address, specialists are more likely to receive an immediate visual along with location information and the team’s response time is much better. The email has been well received and may be one of the main factors responsible for doubling the number of rat sightings reported last year. Luckily, the increase in sightings does not mean there is an increase in rat presence or infestations.”
Many people know that Alberta is rat free and are eager to report sightings, but with limited exposure to rats in the province many Albertans do not know what rats actually look like. About half of the reported sightings last year turned out to be muskrats.
Rats enter the province by overland migration along the Alberta/Saskatchewan border or by stowing away on planes, trains and automobiles. All rat sightings are investigated thoroughly.
The Rat Control team is working towards broader use of the live cam in their work. Its increased use will provide long-term benefits as the live cam can be moved to places where rats are suspected or known, providing increased flexibility.
“The live cam allows us to watch, trap and bait areas to see the rodents’ patterns, in terms of movement and what is working well for getting rid of them. If we can use live cams at more sites our understanding of their patterns becomes even greater and we can continue to make improvements to the bait and traps we use.”
The dedicated email and live cams will continue adding value to Alberta’s Rat Control program. As the team collects more data on rats found in Alberta, mapping out where they are found and recording their specific species, it is expected to lead to further advances in rat control for the province.
“The rat control program pages on our website have been updated to include improved images for identifying rats and the rodents often mistaken for rats. A new fact sheet (PDF, 160 KB) which compares rats to mice has also been added. And we track how many rats have been reported in the province year over year,” says Wickerson.
For more information, connect with Karen Wickerson at 403-948-3999.
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