WATCH: West Kelowna becomes ground zero for rats

WEST KELOWNA, B.C. – Residents blame the closing of the local dump, but pest control experts say transports from the coast have imported an unwanted invader: rats.

“It’s definitely escalating,” says Orkin pest expert Matthew Wright. “It’s not too bad in the Kelowna area, but it’s definitely more on the Westside.”

The rodents first began appearing in Okanagan residential neighbourhoods in 2009, according to pest control companies in the valley.

West Kelowna’s problem has been increasing in the last two years.

“Also because of the grapes, all the wineries,” says GoPro pest Control owner Charles Miller who says rats can have three to four litters a year, with about six to eight offspring per litter.

Some residents in the Westview Mobile Home Park have been losing the battle, with rats chewing on outdoor furniture and home wiring.

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“The neighbour’s cat caught one and they found it in the morning out on the lawn,” says resident Earl Millman.

Penny Alward says two of her cats kill rats and bring them home, the last being found before the weekend.

Many park residents wouldn’t go on camera for fear of what the rat problem might do to their property values, but two of Millman’s neighbours have had their wiring systems replaced in recent months due to rat destruction. Pack rats collect the wiring.

No one should be embarrassed because, “anyone can get rats”, says Miller.

“It doesn’t mean that you’re dirty, or that you got sanitation issues,” says Wright. “That will help increase the population, but it doesn’t mean that you’re dirty yourself.”

Wright says people have to change habits and better protect their properties from rats.

“You got to clean up your compost and pick up your nuts and your fruits and vegetables,” he says. “And try not to feed the dogs outside or the cats outside.”

District of West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater says he occasionally hears about rat issues in his community, but his office reports only getting three calls of complaint.

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The Westview Mobile Home Park occupies Westbank First Nation property. The WFN was unaware of any rat problems in their community.

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