How Alberta, Canada Got Rid Of All Its Rats

Rat free since nineteen-fifty.
How Alberta, Canada Got Rid Of All Its Rats

They say you're never more than six feet away from a rat, or if you live in Brooklyn, six seconds from dropping down a rat sinkhole. And these disease-ridden critters are only growing bolder during the outbreak, fighting turf wars on streets and making cozy pieds-a-terre out of your pickup trucks. But if you want to escape your local rat invasion, there's only one true safe haven in the world: Alberta, Canada. 

Nestled in the frozen north of Canada, it took a while before the omnipresent brown rat made its way to the province of Alberta. The earliest sighting of a whiskered plague bearer was in 1950, and its arrival was heralded with the same panicked ferocity as a Godzilla attack. Dominion over the rat's fate was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, which has the power to designate any creature as a pest. This made rats effectively enemies of the state-- er, province,  with every resident bound "to destroy and prevent the establishment of designated pests."

But what if the rat insurgency is too much for the local populace to handle? Then it's time to bring in the zealous e-rat-icators of the government-sponsored rat-control program. Armed with shotguns, incendiary devices, and a poison called Warfarin, these government exterminators are only a call to your local agricultural fieldman (310-RATS) away. But you may not want to make that call, as knowingly harboring rats comes with a CAD$5,000 fine, and even if you did the right thing, it won't prevent these zealots from taking preventative measures like burning your property to the ground

The Rat Patrol has an even more important role as rat immigration and customs enforcement (RICE). Frequent patrols in the government-designated Rat Control Zone, also known as the Alberta-Saskatchewan border, give them license to stop rats with the same prejudice their bigoted southern cousins use to stop human beings at their borders. 

Alberta Department of Public Health
Only in Canada would that kind of poster not be a racist euphemism for some minority.

And being virulently anti-rat isn't just a policy, but part of Albertans' provincial identity. The armed (with shovels) Albertan militia takes their responsibilities very seriously. In 2004, when some practical joker released 34 rats in Calgary, the populace immediately formed posses and hunted down the rogue rats one by one. And you can't argue the results. This year, Alberta celebrated 70 years of being rat-free, with the only rats remaining in its frozen wastes being the ones in the Canadian witness protection program.

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Top Image: Alberta Department of Public Health

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