Pesticide ban encourages large rat population at Langara to flourish 

The bushes are teeming with rats around campus

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By KAREENA JASSAL

Langara College students and staff say they are noticing more rats on campus as the city grapples with a continuing increase in its rat population.

Langara marketing management student Jeah Dino said she has seen rats darting in and out of bushes throughout the campus.

“It makes me feel that the campus is not really hygienic,” Dino said.

Many bait stations are located around the campus to trap and humanely kill rats. Despite that, rats have been spotted roaming around the campus by students who attend classes at night. Vancouver has seen an increase in rats since 2021 when the province banned the use of rat poison to reduce accidental poisoning of other animals and wildlife.

Pets were at risk if they happened to eat a poisoned rat

Videos of rats at locations in Vancouver have gone viral on social media in recent months.

“There’s been a steady increase in the rat population [throughout Vancouver],”Mike Londry, owner of Westside Pest Control said.

This ban was first implemented in 2021, after concerns were raised that pesticides were harmful to other animals and wildlife populations such as raptors. Thousands of supporters of the BC Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supported a pledge not to use pesticides. More than 20 B.C. municipalities passed motions to ban rodenticides.

But according to Londry, the ban came as a surprise. He said pest control companies were stuck with stockpiles of pesticide they couldn’t use or dispose of.

“The Ministry of Environment, within literally five minutes of warning in the middle of the summer, implemented an immediate restriction of all rodenticides,” Londry said.

The ban on rat pesticides became permanent on Jan. 31, 2023.

The Langara facilities department did not respond to questions from the Voice, so hard information on the rat population on campus cannot be verified. But reports from pest control companies and residents suggest the rodent population in Vancouver has mushroomed since the ban.

Rat eating food scraps near the east parking lot at Langara College on March 17, 2024. Photo by Louis Bergeron and Kareena Jassal.

Staff and students share their experiences on campus

Dino said the college should let students know about the rat problem “so that people can be more hygienic and not scatter litters everywhere,” Dino said. “I don’t want to come to my classes and see rats running around.”

Chetna Jangra, part of the maintenance staff at Langara, said she has difficulty cleaning the college due to the rats.

“They eat the garbage bags that have garbage inside and it’s very hard for us to take it from the bins because all the bags have holes in them,” Jangra said.

Jangra said the cleaning staff has brought up the issue of rats with the college.

“We informed them many times, but they are not doing anything. We get requests that they are inside the offices under the tables but the college is not doing anything,” Jangra said.

Londry said pesticides were a first line of defence against rodents. Without them, he said the best available solution to control rat populations is the use of bait stations.

“Large snap traps in a tamper proof station in the backyard are good for controlling rats. It’s helped to control the rat population,” Londry said.

Mice have been seen inside buildings 

While rats are the king of the outdoor campus, mice are the rodents causing concern inside Langara’s buildings, say students and staff.

Issues have been raised on the mice being spotted inside the buildings, particularly near the cafeteria despite bait stations being placed nearby.

Chetna Jangra, part of the maintenance staff at Langara, said mice have been reported inside the buildings.

“We get requests from the offices that they are right under the tables inside. And every time we have to clean it,” Jangra said.

Students have also spotted mice inside the college’s buildings. Abinan Singh, computer science student, said he has spotted mice a few times.

“I’ve seen them in the evenings when there are less people in the cafeteria,” Singh said. “I think the college needs to do a lot more to get rid of them.”

Singh said the college needs to have more effective action to rid the buildings of mice.

“If bait stations or traps are not working then the college should find other solutions because it’s not good enough,” Singh said.

Rat coming out to sniff the wind at Langara College on March 17, 2024. Photo by Louis Bergeron and Kareena Jassal.

 

 

 

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