Alberta’s rat-free claim still stands after ‘straggler’ found from summer nest

Alberta has claimed rat-free status since the 1950's, but inspectors say solitary rats sometimes come in to the province on trucks or other vehicles. (CBC News)

Almost as famous as Alberta's stance on not charging residents provincial sales tax is its claim to have eradicated the rat population.

No, it's true. The province sandwiched between the wheat fields of Saskatchewan and the mountains of B.C. has long held a reputation for being free of any would-be Ratatouilles.

Well, it might be just a matter of which comes first, a provincial sales tax or the death of such a distinguished status.

[ Related: Is a provincial sales tax in Alberta’s future? ]

The Canadian Press reports that another rat was discovered near Medicine Hat where, in September, a nest of some 100 Norway rats was found and destroyed.

Agricultural fieldman Jason Storch told reporters on Monday that it was believed the recently-spotted rat may have been a "straggler" from that population.

"The only evidence of rats we had was the dead rat itself. Upon investigating, we didn't find any other signs," he said, per the Canadian Press.

The reputation of rat-free is a point of pride in the area.

The City of Medicine Hat updated the public on the infestation through the summer, keeping a count on how many pests were spotted and killed. Cameras were even set up in the landfill to watch for rodent activity.

[ Related: Calgary Mayor Nenshi says Alberta treats him like ‘farm team’ ]

“Alberta is the only province with rat-free status and we take this very seriously. We have lived without the menace of rats since 1950 when our control program began,” said Verlyn Olson, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, in an August statement.

Poulin's Pest Control also asserted that Alberta remained rat-free in January, after one rat was found in Calgary.

The company boasts that Alberta’s “rat-free” status still stands strong with its aggressive rat control program keeping "the vermin outside of the borders."

The pest control company says one pair of reproducing rats can lead to a colony of 15,000 within a year.

So for now, Alberta remains vigilant and free of rats.