“Stop feeding the ducks”, say council, after rats take up residence in riverbank
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A council is urging people not to feed the birds at a popular riverside spot after a rise in the number of rats.
Thetford Town Council is warning people that the rodents, which are known to carry the deadly Weil's Disease, are feasting on leftover bread not eaten by ducks and geese on the riverside in Thetford town centre.
They have now taken up residence on the riverbank opposite Butten Island.
Mike Brindle, town councillor, said the council were growing concerned about the number of rats.
'People feed ducks and birds there and the rats love it, so we are going to have to persuade people not to do it.
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'We will do it rather reluctantly, but we have to keep the town safe for people,' he said.
The infestation comes after Breckland Council withdrew its free pest control service in May.
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The district council has provided bait boxes to exterminate the rats, with the bait being administered by town council staff.
A heron has also been seen eating the younger rats.
But town councillors say they are now taking on the cost of a service which should be provided by Breckland.
Sylvia Armes, mayor and Breckland councillor, said she had raised the issue at the time of the cuts, saying it would create a vermin problem.
And Mr Brindle said pest control was a 'necessary public service' which the town council was forced to pick up in Breckland's stead.
A spokesman for Breckland insisted it was working with the town council to monitor the rat problem, and was taking steps to manage the issue.
'This includes reducing rat habitats, such as hedging, along the river area. We also urge people who wish to feed birds and other animals to ensure they do not leave excessive food, as this can encourage rat numbers,' he said.
He also confirmed that Breckland residents now have to hire their own pest controller to deal with rats.
If the problem is not on a resident's property, they can refer an incident for investigation to Breckland's Environmental Protection Team, he added.
A spokesman from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), which is based in Thetford, advised people not to 'overfeed' birds, in order to cut down on leftovers.
Do you think the council's response is fair? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on firstname.lastname@example.org