Pest control on rat patrol at Hillsborough Forest Park

A rat lurking in the undergrowth at Hillsborough Forest Park during the 2011 infestation. Pic: Colm O'Reilly PacemakerPress Intl
A rat lurking in the undergrowth at Hillsborough Forest Park during the 2011 infestation. Pic: Colm O'Reilly PacemakerPress Intl

Pest control is said to be on the case at Hillsborough Forest Park as more members of the public report sightings of large rats.

Daily visitor Mervyn Robb warned last week of signs that the vermin, last encountered in force at the forest during the widely publicised ‘plague’ of 2011, were returning in numbers.

“In recent weeks I have noticed an upsurge in large rats again,” he said, “particularly on the southern side of the lake.

“I think if the public is not to desert the park, effective and prompt action will have to be taken again, no doubt as the spring breeding season takes off.”

According to the Forest Service, in a response this week, action is ongoing and fresh reports of rats have been passed to pest control.

A spokesperson said: “Forest Service uses pest control contractors at sites across the Forest Service estate, including Hillsborough forest.

“In addition, Forest Service carries out a regular maintenance programme of work at Hillsborough forest.

“This includes the lifting and removal of litter as well as the regular emptying of the bins provided on site.

“The pest control contractor has been made aware of this (Mr Robb’s) report.”

In the meantime, on Facebook, Julie Crothers Potts said she had two rats cross her path at Hillsborough forest last week.

Likewise responding to last week’s Ulster Star article, Olivia Ney-Phillips posted: “I saw a rat at the South side of the lake just a few days ago, totally not scared next to the path.

“I thought it was a water rat - but really it was just a common fat rat.

“The article and warning is valid. Feeding the waterfowl with bread is unhealthy for them, causing malnutrition - and it feeds and invites rats.”