Rat eradication project moved up, expanded

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2008, 12:00am

The latest effort to rid Hong Kong of rats will start earlier and last longer than originally planned.

Hygiene chiefs said yesterday that they would move the start of the next phase of the rodent eradication programme from July to May and extend it to seven weeks from the four in the original plan.

The first phase ended in January.

According to Food and Environmental Hygiene Department figures, the infestation rate - as measured by the number of rats attracted to every 100 pieces of bait - dropped from 16 per cent in 2000 to 2.9 per cent in 2006. But the figure rose to 4.8 per cent last year.

'The overall rodent problem in Hong Kong is under control, as reflected by the rodent infestation rate,' FEHD pest control officer-in-charge Yuen Ming-chi said, despite last year's increase.

Noting that the department has staff killing rodents daily, Mr Yuen said inspections would take place along with themed talks and exhibitions to educate the public on handling rodents.

Mr Yuen was speaking after he and Food and Health Bureau officials met representatives from the Kowloon West New Dynamic - a league formed by 18 independent district councillors from Sham Shui Po, Yau Tsim Mong and Kowloon.

'We are told that the FEHD has 220 workers and another 1,500 from private companies responsible for pest control. With this number, we should be able to handle rodent problems effectively,' said Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, convenor of the group. 'But it is using old methods such as poison and white powder on rodent control.'

The group also urged the government to set up an index that would indicate the seriousness of rodent problems in different areas. Mong Kok, a rodent black spot, should have an index within three months.

The government should have a 24-hour car for the collection of live and dead rodents, the group said.

Dr Leung said FEHD had expressed its wish to meet Li Jingjiu, a rodent expert from Guangdong who caught 17 rats at the wet market in Canton Road in about an hour on Tuesday.