Thousands of rodents plaguing Burnley and Pendle residents

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Thousands of rodents are plaguing Burnley and Pendle residents.

The owner of Wallace Pest Control says the warmer weather, neglected buildings, and outdoor spaces with exposed food waste allow rats to thrive and breed longer. He also believes the public generally misuses shop-bought poisons known as rodenticides, allowing rats to become more resistant to treatments and numbers to soar.Infestations have skyrocketed by nearly 85% across both boroughs since the Covid-19 lockdowns, jumping from 955 in 2020 to 1,765 in 2022, FOI council data reveals.Kane Wallace, a pest control technician, believes the numbers could be even higher."I have noticed quite a dramatic increase since 2019. I would say the numbers have doubled.

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"I do see a knock-on effect on people living in infested homes. It is a public health risk and causes emotional distress and structural damage to wiring and timber framing, requiring hefty repairs."I have seen significant damage to timber floor joists, which have required immediate repair due to the weight they support."In Burnley, the council tackled 1,247 rodent infestations in 2022 – up from 506 (a nearly 150% increase) during lockdown.It suspended its pest control service during the pandemic, instead offering advice to residents about how to prevent and deal with infestations, including any required property repairs, before slowly reintroducing it.A council spokesperson said it now "provides a robust pest control service free of charge to residents within the borough and supplements this service with an annual sewer baiting programme that targets areas where there have been multiple reports of issues with rats."Meanwhile, in Pendle, infestations soared 300% from 217 in 2019 to 869 in 2021.Sarah Whitwell, Head of Housing and Environmental Health for Pendle Borough Council, said it ran a limited service in 2020 and that many residents did not want anyone to go into their homes.

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Rats eating grains of puffed rice. Photo credit: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty ImagesRats eating grains of puffed rice. Photo credit: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images
Rats eating grains of puffed rice. Photo credit: Sanjay Kanojia/AFP via Getty Images

“It is likely that the increased requests in 2021 were because of a bigger rat population from the reduced number of treatments carried out the year before.”Kane says many people who have turned to at-home poisons misuse them, harming wildlife and animals, including family pets. Conversely, the professional industry faces heavy regulations for their use."Anyone can buy small quantities of over-the-counter rat poison, but often the instructions are not followed, which can lead to serious consequences. We have a number of times found rat poison used around bird feeders and unprotected areas near pets and children. Some of these have resulted in pets requiring urgent vet care."Kane has seen several cases where the family dog has swallowed poison left out in the garden, adding: "There is not always a lot the vet can do."He believes the public should only be allowed to buy amateur rat poison when packaged in specially prepared bait stations that cannot be tampered with to restrict access to children and pets.

If you need help and support with a rodent infestation in your home, visit the Burnley and Pendle Council websites to book a pest control treatment.

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