WHEREAS Alberta has been considered a Rat free Province due to the effectiveness of the Provincial Rat Control Program and the partnering border municipalities which has proven to be a major Alberta advantage nationally as well as globally; andWHEREAS the Alberta Rat Control Program and its partner municipalities have lost and will continue to lose the most valuable component of this program, which is the expertise of its long serving and experienced staff; andWHEREAS Alberta Agriculture and Food must continue to retain and develop staff with the expertise and ability to conduct the rat control inspections and train new and existing municipal staff in rat inspection and control methods; andWHEREAS Alberta has had isolated rat infestations within the last year and Alberta’s Rat Free status could be called into question if checks are not being completed in an efficient and timely manner by qualified and properly trained inspectors; andWHEREAS the Province needs to maintain all of its Alberta advantages and must ensure the continuation of an effective Rat Control Program thus retaining its Rat Free Status;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Alberta Agriculture and Food continue to show leadership and direction through developing a suitable program structure that includes appointing a Provincial Rat Control Inspector/Coordinator that has the expertise and authority to implement training sessions and respond to rat calls and infestations throughout the Province; andFURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that Alberta Agriculture and Food continue to adequately fund the Alberta Rat Control Program and the municipalities that perform Rat Control Inspections and control work throughout the Province and take a lead role in developing and funding new awareness materials such as pamphlets, videos, training material and the upgrading of existing displays as well as ensuring two-way communication between all partners and the inclusion of existing rat control expertise in the Rat Control Programs policy and programming decisions.
After the discovery of the first rat colony in 1950 the Alberta Rat and Rabies Program was created, to prevent the infestation of rats and skunk rabies from Saskatchewan or elsewhere, and in now regulated under the Agricultural Pests Act, 1984.Rats are recognized as the most destructive vertebrate animal in the world, both in terms of economic losses they cause and in their effects on human health. Rats consume and/or contaminate approximately 1/5 of the entire world’s field crops planted each year, including at least 4% of all stored grain. Each rat consumes about 10-20 pounds of food per year while contaminating 5-10 times that amount. A single rat will produce about 25,000 droppings a year, which is responsible for the spread of a number of diseases, either directly by contamination of food and feeds or indirectly by way of rat fleas or mites. Gnawing and burrowing activities by rats also cause physical damage to buildings, structures, pipes and electric wires.The Rat Control Program provides services for the Rat Control zone comprised of ranges one, two and three west of the fourth meridian in Alberta and east into the Province of Saskatchewan. This creates buffer zone between the two provinces, resulting in an Alberta advantage. Infestations, wherever they are found or reported in Alberta or the buffer zone, are to also be addressed by this program.Until recently, the province had a single person designated as the Rat Control Program Coordinator. This Coordinator had the ability to work with, communicate and coordinate issues and training with the Municipal Rat Control Officers known as the Rat Control Team. This Coordinator also had extensive Rat Control knowledge and expertise, which enabled them to act as a resource for municipalities within the Rat Control Zone as well as those in the interior of the province that occasionally had rat issues (eg. City of Calgary). In the past the Rat Control Team had extensive technical expertise within both the government and the municipalities involved in the program. However, due to retirements and staff changes much of the technical expertise the program had in experienced staff is being lost. The effectiveness, efficiency and continuity of the Rat Control Program need to be maintained. It is essential that a single Provincial Coordinator with the technical expertise needs to be in place to lead, train, advise, respond quickly and work alongside the current and future Municipal Rat Control Officers.Public awareness regarding the Rat Control Program and the devastation that rats can cause is also an essential part of the overall program. Current and up to date awareness materials such as displays, pamphlets, posters, fact sheets and videos are also required for use during tradeshows, public presentations and school programs. The expertise and the knowledge that Municipal Rat Control Officers have should also be considered and used when developing these new awareness materials.Effective two-way communication between provincial and municipal governments combined with qualified and effectively trained staff, current and pertinent awareness materials, and effective and efficient inspection procedures all contribute to the overall effectiveness of the Provincial Rat Control Program and the Alberta Advantage.
The AAMDC has no current resolutions or background pertaining to this issue.
The Government of Alberta responded that it would continue with the Rat Control Program, funding, training and a public awareness campaign. The AAMDC finds the Government of Albertas response to this resolution to be incomplete for decision. This governments response does not address the issues regarding a provincial rat control inspector/coordinator. The Association continues to include this issue in the formal ministerial meeting submissions to Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.