Rats biting into residents' wallets
There is a big problem with rats on Cates Hill and elsewhere on Bowen. Residents are reporting rats are nesting and chewing in all manner of places, especially car engines and other areas of their cars. Some residents are concerned they’ll move into houses.
Geoff Degner lives in the area and is also a mechanic at Pemberton Automotive in North Vancouver. He’s had the issue with his car. He says that in the past few months at Pemberton they’ve had three Bowen cars needing “major repairs” due to rat damage and “more than I can count” needing minor work.
Degner says that, in particular, the rats go for wiring and hoses, plastic, anything “rubbery.” Recently they had a Volvo in for repair with so much damage it became an ICBC claim. They’ve had cars where the rats went in through the trunk and chewed all the way into the back seat and in one case managed to chew into a backpack.
It’s been an ongoing problem for a few months and Elle Glave, who lives on Cates Hill, says it’s getting worse. She worries that a solution such as poisoning or traps would be dangerous to local pets. But if not a solution along those lines, then what?
“Everyone on our hill is discussing it and we've considered having a neighbourhood meeting to discuss it,” Glave told the Undercurrent in a recent email. “Folks are concerned about pets getting hurt by traps and poison, about composting attracting rats, and about rats getting into their houses.”
Glave, who notes residents don’t have garages for cars, said that she and her husband James are among those who have had to spend money to get their car fixed thanks to the rats.
“One day our car, a newish Honda FIT, wouldn't start after having weird battery and electrical issues,” she says. “I got stranded at Village Square with the kids in the car and Dr. Sue and another nice lady jumpered my car to get it started. Chris Leigh (of Leigh Automotive on Bowen) showed us that rats had eaten the wiring under the hood and also the hose connecting the windshield wash solution to the sprayer.”
The battery issues weren’t related but what the rats were responsible for cost $150. Other damage that rats have done up on Cates Hill include chewing on a PVC pipe, thereby causing a hot tub to drain, and eating tomatoes in gardens.
Meanwhile Leigh said that they are getting on average two cars a week with problems related to rats and sometimes “half-a-dozen.” They’ve had cars come back in a second time and it’s not just Cates Hill but many parts of the Island that are having a problem. He said rats love wiring, coolant hoses and spark plugs wires.
They might not be able to take down a Bowen bear or wolf, Leigh said, but they did take down a Jaguar, eating through 12 hoses in that one car at Hood Point. He says people should get into the habit of checking under their hood and cleaning out nests or areas where rats have been. He tried Armour All and it seemed to keep the rats away, but said others didn’t have success with it.
He points out that you shouldn’t park near where they might nest, such as a woodshed or compost or a pile of building material, and you should keep the vehicle free of garbage and food droppings. Meanwhile Degner said that some of his customers have tried putting cat hairs right in their car’s engine.
The Undercurrent spoke to one Islander who talked of getting rid of rats in the “old days” by tying a string to a trap full of them and lowering it into a barrel of water for a few minutes. There has been no talk of that kind of a solution on Cates Hill but Glave reports that some residents have managed to trap rats, though not in large numbers.
“We're looking for tips on how to deal with it and advice from other islanders who have successfully eradicated the pesky beasts,” she said.