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Halifax’s Victoria Park tent encampment dealing with rat problem

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Pest control expert Andrew Wheelock is shocked by a video showing dozens of rats at the Victoria Park tent encampment.

“Certainly that is a lot of rats.”

Wheelock says tent encampments are prime locations for rodents.

“Rats are attracted to food source, and if there’s a food source around or shelter or a place where they can better survive they’re going to be available and be interested in being there.”

With rats comes health risks.

“Their feces and their urine are things you don’t want in your home or building. Rodent feces can carry viruses, hantavirus from mouse and rat droppings as well known,” says Wheelock.

City officials are aware of the infestation.

“I’ve seen both some videos, and people have sent me some pictures too,” says Max Chauvin, Halifax’s housing and homelessness director.

Halifax has issued eviction notices to those tenting in some its parks, now that ample shelter spaces are available.

Chauvin says a plan is in place to take care of the rat problem once those staying there have moved on.

“We have professional firms that help with vermin, rat, abatement, and so on,” Chauvin says. “There also comes a time when there are so many that really you’ve got to shut the space down to be able to deal with the problem.”

Chauvin says the cleanup work required will be significant.

“The first thing is an inspection of the site because you’ve got to know what you have to deal with and what needs to be repaired, what are the issues and so on. So the first thing is a full assessment of the site, physical inspection, and then putting together a plan that addresses whatever needs to be done.”

Once that food source is gone, Wheelock says the rats will move on looking for a new one.

“The rats are going to want to survive, right? Survival is their number one thing. They are going to look for new food sources, new sources of shelter, they want to have places where they can reproduce, so they will scatter to nearby buildings, areas of shelter.”

Until the remediation work is complete and the rats are gone, Chauvin says the parks will be closed to everyone.

As for how long that will be, Max Chauvin says the timeline is unclear right now.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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