310RATS@gov.ab.ca is the new email address that people can use if they see a rat – dead or alive – in the province. Albertans can also call 310-RATS (7287) to report any sightings.
“This one-step approach will help to keep Alberta rat-free,” explains Karen Wickerson, rat and pest program specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
“Using this email allows the person reporting the rodent to snap a picture with their smartphone and send it directly to our rat control program.”
The Government of Alberta launched the program 70 years ago to prevent a rat breeding population from taking hold in the province. The first rat infestation was discovered along the Alberta-Saskatchewan border in 1950. Rats were declared a pest and added to The Agricultural Pests Act of Alberta, 1942.
Alberta’s geography continues to be an advantage in the fight against this invasive species. A cold north, mountains to the west and southwest, and open and unfriendly prairie to the southeast only allows for the overland migration of rats from the eastern border.
Farming innovation and changes in practices have also helped contribute to the success of the program. Pig and chicken barns are now enclosed and built with cement floors. Farmers don’t store as much grain on the farm. When they do, it’s in steel instead of wooden granaries, built with steel or cement floors.
Wickerson adds that the biggest threat of rats entering the province today is via transportation means, such as recreation vehicles and commercial trucks.