Norway Rats Alberta

Norway Rats Alberta, Norway Rats Alberta, Abstract: Since 1950, Alberta Agriculture has supervised and co-ordinated a rural-based Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) control program that has essentially kept the province rat-free. Success is achieved by eliminating invading rats within a control zone 600 km long and 30 km wide along the eastern border of the province.

A systematic detection and eradication system is used throughout the zone to keep rat infestations to a minimum. Strong public support and, citizen participation was developed through public education and a sound awareness effort. Although rat infestations within the interior are minor, a rat response plan is in place to deal with a large or difficult case. Government preparedness, legislation, climate, geography, effective rat baits and close co-operation between provincial and municipal governments have contributed to program success.

Key words: Agricultural Pests Act, Norway rat, eradication, sylvatic plague, pest, rat control zone, survey range, toxicants, anti-coagulant, arsenic, scilloricide, Warfarin, antu, thallium sulphate, barium carbonate, strychnine, zinc phosphide, compound 1080, carbon monoxide, boreal forest, detection, eradication, firearms, ground squirrel, pocket gopher, colony, infestation, pest control officer, short-grass prairie, waste transfer site, hopper bottom bin, silage tower, round bale, rat sighting, pyrotechnics, herpetologist.


Norway rats first arrived in North America along the eastern seaboard about 1775 on board steerage and merchant sailing vessels. Rats spread westward over the continent accompanying human settlement (Hall and Kelson), entering upper Canada in the early 19th century (Ontario Provincial Archives). About one hundred years later rats entered the Canadian prairies through Saskatchewan from the mid west United States. Within ten years following World War I rats had reached central Saskatchewan and World War II spanned the province to the eastern border of Alberta.

Rat migration into Alberta was stopped along the eastern border by a well organized and managed program of eradication. Alberta's rat control program continues today in halting the westward advance of rats into the province.
This paper describes the history, current status and strategies of rat control, the future of rat control in Alberta and the factors which contributed to the success of the program.

Reference data were cited from departmental as well as divisional annual reports from Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and from original documents and files of the Departments of Alberta Agriculture and Saskatchewan Agriculture, 1950 to 1983.

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