It's places like Alberta that contribute to rats' bad reps October 14, 2004 9:02 AM
Neighbours ratting out pet rat owners
CALGARY -- The discovery of three dozen rats in a Calgary neighbourhood last month has led to Albertans tattling on neighbours who are harbouring the rodents. Residents and animal control officers trapped and killed a nest of 37 Norway rats in mid-September that threatened Alberta's fabled rat-free status.
But John Bourne, an Alberta Agriculture vertebrate pest specialist, said publicity has actually helped the province's Rat Patrol.
"People are turning in those who are illegally keeping animals," he said yesterday. "I don't want to call them criminals, but those people are violating provincial statutes and it's incumbent on anybody to do that (inform) whether it's your neighbour or not."
He said his department has received anonymous tips from the public about five cases where people were keeping rats illegally throughout the province.
In one instance, an individual in Edmonton was keeping rats as pets while the other cases are still under investigation, Bourne said.
"We knew there are people who are keeping illegal animals," he said.
"There's always an element in society that feels it's in their best interest to violate provincial laws and the laws of the country to satisfy their own personal agendas, so it doesn't come as a surprise."
Keeping rats in Alberta can result in a fine of up to $5,000 or 60 days in jail.
On a more positive note, Bourne said for the first time since 1951, no rats were found in the 24-km-wide rat control zone running along the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.
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