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Video shows dozens of rats feasting in Vancouver park

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A video making the rounds on social media shows dozens of rats scurrying about a small downtown park near Burrard Station in Vancouver.

It’s not clear when the nighttime video was shot at Art Phillips Park but the rats appear to be eating something on the ground near the sidewalk.

When CTV News visited the park on Monday, no rats were visible – but a group of pigeons were pecking at bird seed in the same area shown in the rat video.

"There are rats here every single night around 11 or 12 o'clock when I'm getting off work,” said Renato Aglubat on his way through the park. “They just run around, especially when it's raining."

Abell Pest Control, a national company, says it has seen a spike in calls for rodent infestations in Metro Vancouver that began around the time of the COVID-19 pandemic and has continued to surge ever since.

"We found our rodents and rat populations were up 50 per cent,” said Mike Heimbach, Abell’s vice president of business development. “And they've gone up another 24 per cent since then so the rodent population in Vancouver is definitely on the rise."

One theory about why rodent populations appear to be on the rise is linked to a 2021 move by the British Columbia government to temporarily restrict second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) – powerful and effective poisons used to kill rodents.

Citing a potentially lethal danger to other wildlife, pets and children, the province made the sales restrictions around SGARs permanent in early 2023.

The products are still available for sale to certain essential businesses, including those in health care and places where food is prepared commercially.

"It's caused us all to have to pivot and change our approach. So we can still work and get control of rodents,” said Heimbach. “It may be a little bit more difficult and time-consuming but I think as an industry we've got it figured out."

He says pest control companies can still use mechanical traps to kill rodents – and that his company also focuses on preventative measures that stop rodents from making their way into homes and businesses in the first place.

At Art Phillips Park where the most recent video showing dozens of rats was shot, there are several large rodent traps as the city tries to get a handle on the problem.

A city spokesperson says the move to restrict access to SGARs has not impacted its approach to rodent population management because it had stopped using those products prior to the province’s regulations taking effect.

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