PENTICTON - Naramata residents dealing with a rat problem are getting some help from the regional district.
Regional District Naramata Director Karla Kozakevich says the community developed a problem with rats last summer and fall, with sightings and evidence of rats seen in increasing numbers in the downtown area of the community.
Problems with rats continued in January, so Kozakevich consulted with other regional directors to see if similar issues in other electoral areas could result in a shared cost program to eradicate the rats. During the discussions, West Bench Director Michael Brydon described a program he ran several years ago that proved successful in his area.
“I needed to try a pilot program. We were starting to see lots of property damage from the rats. They chew through wiring, in one case they ate through a lady’s fish pond liner. She nearly lost all her Koi,” Kozakevich says.
She believes the rats may have come from the recent demolitions of the B.C. Tree Fruits packing house and Country Squire Restaurant. The knockdowns resulted in rats heading to other buildings to take up residence.
Regional District Okanagan SImilkameen Project Coordinator Zoe Kirk says rat population numbers tend to be cyclical, but the Naramata’s lower community had been seeing more and more rats over the past few months.
The district has put together a 50-50 program that will see the regional district pay half of resident’s cost to rid their property of rats, using pest control contractor Orkin.
She says the 90-day program is designed to make it easier for homeowners to eliminate the rats without using old chemicals they might have stored in their home or garage.
“Orkin doesn’t use chemical bait except as a last resort, so homeowners have the assurance of professionals doing the job without the potential for noxious chemicals to be left for other animals to get into,” Kirk says.
“It’s not like this is an epidemic — it’s more of an effort to prevent things from getting out of hand. There are a few rats out there, we’d like to get ahead of it now,” she says.
Kirk notes it wouldn’t be known how serious individual infestations are until results of the program are tabulated.
The program, which began May 4, involves the homeowner contacting Orkin to make a site visit to assess the scope of the infestation. Following that, a program to eliminate the rats is initiated, which costs an average $250. Residents pay the bill, then take it to the regional district office for reimbursement of half the cost.
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