Cull-de-sac: Use humane methods to curb rat menace: Animal Welfare Board

While the menace of rats continues to grow in the city, the civic administration's initiative to recruit additional rat catchers is in limbo in the wake of objections raised by the National Animal Welfare Board.

The animal welfare board has written to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to eliminate the practice of culling rats as it amounts to cruelty. The board has also raised its objections to the recruitment of rat catchers.

The BMC has a decades-old rat catching programme in the island city and has 44 'night rat killers' on its rolls. Alhough the BMC employs another 140 day-time rat-catchers, to operate in the suburbs, these men only attend house calls or complaints from people. It is planning to create additional posts of rat catchers for the island city, which is grappling with the problem of increasing rat population.

A senior civic official said the BMC plans to recruit an additional 30 rat catchers. The animal welfare board objected to the practice of culling rats through a blow to the heads, said the official. "We had urged the Board to reconsider their circular as the city has heaps of garbage which are breeding grounds for rats. It is crucial that the rat population is controlled. Otherwise it can result in spread of diseases," said the official.

"We have been asked to stop the system of culling rats which they have deemed as cruel and archaic. They have asked us to follow more humane methods such as trapping and poisoning," said the official.

Executive Health Officer, Arun Bamne said, "At present, the proposal to recruit rat catchers is put on hold, but we are continuing with our methods to kill the rats. It is relatively more difficult to kill rats by poisoning them or trapping them and we have conveyed the same to the Animal Welfare Board. We have also urged the municipal commissioner to take up the matter at the Central government level".

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