let's talk farm animals

When rodents get political

By Leslie Ballentine, Farm and food commentator

Mice may be cute but they are also the subject of political debate. According to RadioNetherlands, mice have moved into the Dutch parliament building during the winter recess. The debate began when the Animal Rights Party informed the press and the leader of the lower house that the party would be “removing all the mousetraps in their part of the building and replacing them with mouse-friendly traps.”

This became front-page news and editors came up with some truly awful puns as they covered the rodent drama. Things took a new twist when a regional TV station discovered that the mouse-friendly traps weren’t friendly at all: “the mice start squeaking and create panic throughout the rest of the mouse family,” the station reported.  Presumably these “humanely” trapped rodents are being relocated or adopted by the Animal Rights Party. Meanwhile, some MPs have recommended getting a house cat to solve the pest problem.

In Washington, DC, the District of Columbia Wildlife Protection Act of 2010 restricts the killing of mice and rats. Instead the new law requires pest control operators to humanely capture and relocate certain breeds. Sending them across the Potomac River into Virginia, seems to be the preferred destination. The little known law came to public attention with the reports of growing rat infestations around the Occupy DC protest camps.

Mohammad N. Akhter, director of the District’s Department of  Health told media at the time, “the situation in the two parks is reminiscent of refugee camps he has toured overseas in the Middle East and Africa during his public health career.” According to Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general of Virginia, “[t]his law is ‘crazier than fiction,’ because it requires that rats and other vermin not be killed but captured, preferably in families; no glue or snap traps can be utilized; the rodents must be relocated from where they are captured; and some of these animals may need to be transferred to a ‘wildlife rehabilitator’ as part of their relocation process. The law does not allow pest control professionals “to kill the dang rats,” Cuccinelli told CNSNews.com.

And here in Ottawa, the National Capital Commission was the target of animal rights protests over their use of poison traps to eliminate the burgeoning rat population at Confederation Park. The traps were dropped when, in 2010, the Ottawa Animal Defence League mounted a campaign to abandon killing the rats and use “humane methods” instead. According to their press release at the time rats are “gentle, social animals … rats are playful, love to be tickled and make chirping noises that sound like laughter”.  The NCC capitulated to the activist’s demands and resorted to rat prevention methods such as rat proofing garbage cans instead.  No word if the rats have moved on up the street to Parliament Hill.

But this isn’t just a political issue. As any farmer will tell you, rats (and mice) account for huge losses in our grain supply; cause barn fires and damage to farm equipment; not to mention carrying diseases that can threaten livestock and human health.  And now certain farm certification programs even require farmers to use “humane” methods of rodent control. What these farmers do with their captured rodents isn’t clear. Maybe they are relocating them to cities for politicians to deal with.

Until the Next Blog 


Posted by FFC on February 28th, 2012 :: Filed under Activism,Animal cruelty,Regulations,Wildlife
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