Report any rat problems: mayor

Staff

With rats continuing to be a problem for some local residents, the public is being urged to report their rodent run-ins with the town.
Mayor Roy Avis said as far as he’s aware, nothing about rats has been reported to him or the town’s animal control staff.
“We get reports from bylaw every 30-60 days as to what their activities are and I haven’t seen anything about rats,” he noted.
“I haven’t seen any official complaints coming in to the town saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got a real rat problem.’”
But Mayor Avis advised individuals with rat problems to call the town or lodge a complaint online so the town gets a better idea as to how bad the situation really is.
Individuals can call the town at 274-5323 or e-mail town@fort-frances.com
One local resident who is fed up with rats is Sharon Hupchuk.
Hupchuk, who lives on Second Street West, said she recently caught a “small” tan rat which measured about eight inches long, but has seen a couple of other black rats which are “much, much larger.”
She noted her neighbours also have been talking of rats. And when she went to work on Monday, one of her co-workers said they saw a dead rat in the parking lot.
“I think it needs to be brought to light,” Hupchuk said of the rats.
“I didn’t know that I had them, of course, because I wasn’t looking for them,” she noted.
“But when we started to really look, I said, ‘Okay, I definitely have a problem here.’”
Hupchuk said she’s reluctant to put out rat poison because another animal, such as a cat, accidently might be poisoned instead.
Public health inspector Brian Norris said the Northwestern Health Unit sporadically gets phone calls about rats.
“It doesn’t seem like we’ve had as many this summer as last summer,” he noted.
“Last year had seemed unusual because years prior to that we hadn’t received any calls,” said Norris.
“Last year was kind of a surprise, a blip on the radar,” he remarked.
“This year, we got a couple calls—people who had seen them or caught them, what have you.”
Norris said if contacted, public health inspectors will offer some advice as to how to make one’s home less attractive to rodents, adding there is a wealth of similar information on the Internet.
But he clarified the health unit nor the town really can do anything about the rats.
“It would be treated very similar to if you had a mouse infestation, or raccoons or skunks or something like that, so the health unit doesn’t really get involved,” Norris explained.
He suggested the property owner call in a pest control company.
Talk of rats among town residents has become more frequent in the past year or so, with people usually saying they’ve never had problems with rats before.
Last August, Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. reported a few rodents had been located within and outside of Rainycrest Long-Term Care here.
It added management was taking every necessary precaution to ensure the safety of its residents, staff, and the public, including consultation with the Northwestern Health Unit.
One theory is that there were rats in a supply of switchgrass which was brought in for a trial at the mill’s biomass boiler in 2011.
An eye-witness said they saw the switchgrass being unloaded and “there were rats running out of it and everywhere.”
Said rats allegedly now live in the mill.
Others have speculated some local vacant buildings, such as the old Rainy Lake Hotel on Scott Street, might be havens for rodents.