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Getting Rid of Rats in Washington! By Don Boys Ph.D. Posted Jan 31, 2012


I have long thought that the world is nuts, especially the world of Washington, D.C. Now I am sure. It seems Washington, D.C. has a rat problem. No, not that kind, the four-legged kind. Some of the rats are big as cats, so big that some homeowners are fearful of permitting their cats to confront the rats after dark. Traditionally, rats have always been fearful of cats, but not these super rats!


Rats have infested some half-million-dollar homes and have been seen robbing bird feeders in daylight. Other homeowners have had rats come up in the commode from the sewer system. One family had that experience three times! That could mean a new experience when one goes to the potty, especially at night. While you dribble, dribble, dribble the rats can nibble, nibble, nibble.


Washington’s Wildlife Protection Act of 2010 now requires pest control companies to capture rats “and capture them in families” but no one knows how to identify a “family.” Then the rats have to be relocated. However, the relocation must be humane. Rats must be relocated at least 25 miles away (so that would eliminate moving them to the White House) because they will return unless there is a river between their old home and the new one. Of course there is the Potomac River and that has RATtled Virginia. They see animal control officials dropping off the disease-infested vermin in their state knowing the river will keep them there. Maryland is also up in arms–which they could use against rats although PETA officials might get heartburn thinking of those poor, defenseless rats being shot by heartless citizens.


Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Attorney General, said D.C.’s new rat law, is “crazier than fiction” because it requires vermin not be killed but rather captured, preferably in families, and transferred to a “wildlife rehabilitator.” There is a problem since no one seems to know what a “wildlife rehabilitator” is, not even the rat control squad! Neither glue traps nor snap traps can be used to deal with this “sticky” matter.


The law requires, “Wildlife shall be captured, handled, and, when permissible, transported, in a manner to ensure against causing unnecessary discomfort, behavioral stress, or physical harm to the animal, including providing protections against weather extremes.” See what I mean: nuts.


The law further requires that “Captured wildlife shall be transported in covered, secure containers in such a way as to: (1) Minimize stress to the animal and its exposure to the elements by covering the trap or vehicle with appropriate material; (2) Ensure that the covering is of such material that the animal has an adequate supply of air to prevent overheating; and (3) Minimize potential hazards to the general public. (4) A wildlife control services provider shall not use sticky or glue traps to control any wildlife.”


There goes the glue traps and snap traps as a tool to combat the enemy. When I was young, our cats and dogs thinned out most of the vermin and I helped finish the job with a .22 and .220 rifle. We got rather proficient killing groundhogs, raccoons, and other vermin that provided a running target for us. That activity provided some societal good such as removing critters from the area, providing youngsters’ rifle practice, and keeping us off the streets.


For the present, Washington homeowners can still shoot, oops, no they can’t since it is illegal to shoot a two- or four-legged rat discovered in your home, or to shoot at all.


The new law expands the definition of wildlife and sets the rules for handling it to include raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and other animals that carry diseases such as rabies and about 35 other diseases.


Rats chew on about anything to wear down their teeth that grow as much as five inches per year thus causing many fires plus other damage to homes, businesses, and automobiles.


Rats have been responsible for more deaths of humans than all the wars combined because they carry deadly fleas, the cause of the Black Death and other diseases. Maybe the rats need lawyers to plead their cause. Or how about a Public Relations Director? Or a community organizer? They obviously have those, or there would be no such stupid law!


There are plenty of rats in D.C. and I am not without some sympathy so here are my recommendations: dismiss or relocate the legislator that introduced the bill and declare a dollar bounty on each rat –the four-legged ones, of course.

They can still kill babies in Washington but not rats! “Nuts” is a kind and accurate characterization of Washington.

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Copyright 2012, Don Boys, Ph.D.

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