Neighbourhood posse stomps out rats in Alberta

Calgary residents defend Alberta's rat-free status by clubbing dozens of rodents to death

Alberta's boast of being Canada's only rat-free province has been given a boost by a group of stick-wielding neighbours.

Several people recently discovered an infestation of fast-breeding Norway rats in their Calgary neighbourhood.

One resident chased a rat down with a broom. Soon after, neighbours formed a posse and traced the rodents to their lair beneath a lilac bush.

"We clubbed them with brooms and 2x4s, got most of them that way," said Frank Szautner.

Over the past several days, the hunters found 38 rats.

The person who spotted the first rodent, Warren Cucheran, says he and his neighbours were not about to let rats gain a foothold in their well-kept residential area.

"It's nice to see neighbours can get together and put in an effort to get a job done," he said.

Municipal bylaw officers were called in later to make sure all the rats had been caught. They inspected every bag of garbage, combed every wood pile, and placed bait traps around the neighbourhood.

Officers suspect the rats are a domestic variety, similar to those used for laboratory experiments or snake food.

"These rats did not have what the experts call wild instincts. They were raised domestically and have just recently been let go in the wild. So that leads us to believe that someone has put them there," said Bill Bruce, manager of bylaw services.

It's illegal to have a live rat in Alberta. Violators face a $5,000 fine.

The provincial government maintains a rat patrol to keep Alberta free of the rodents.

Norway rats carry disease and can contaminate grain supplies. A single pair of the rodents can produce up to 15,000 rats a year.