The rats are back in the Hat.
Just two years after officials in Medicine Hat battled an infestation in the southern Alberta city’s landfill, the cringe-inducing varmints appear to have made a comeback.
Paul Nicholson, the landfill superintendent for the city some 300 km southeast of Calgary, said the latest rat rebound appears to have happened almost overnight.
“We think something came in from somewhere,” he said, noting the first rodent was spotted on a farm about 4 km from the landfill about a week and a half ago.
“The same places we’re seeing the rats appear now had bait stations there the whole time and saw not a nibble.”
In August 2012, a nest of the pests was discovered at the city’s landfill, prompting an eradication campaign that killed about 150 of the vermin.
Since then, officials have continued to monitor the site, as well as a three-mile buffer zone around it, with about 110 bait stations for any rat activity.
But soon after the first rat made its appearance, poisoned traps began to attract several more, and over the last week a total of 39 have been killed, Nicholson said.
The landfill boss, whose first day on the job in 2012 is when the first infestation was discovered, said he expects a new nest is somewhere on site, and will be handled with prejudice.
“This rat infestation will be dealt with swiftly and completely,” he said.
“So far there’s no indication of any of them travelling — we’re keeping them well fed here.”
So well fed — with poison-laced bait — that Nicholson noted Alberta Agriculture officials will be in town next week with new deadly grub to ensure the rats don’t get wise to the ploy.
“These are smart little critters — this is not a Teen Burger, it’s Grade A sirloin,” he said.
The province employs a “rat patrol” to maintain Alberta’s status as a rat-free province, but Nicholson noted there are several sightings throughout the year as many of the vermin are transported to Alberta via transport trucks.