Global warming could contribute to a rat population explosion with potentially disastrous human health consequences, an expert warned today.
Milder winters and hotter springs were already increasing the rat population significantly, he said.
And Oliver Madge, chief executive of the British Pest Control Association, warned the chances of rodents invading people’s homes increased greatly as a result, with sudden outbreaks of disease far more likely.
He also claimed controversial fortnightly rubbish collections was a “bandwagon” for people to blame local authorities for rises in rodent infestation.
Mr Madge said: “As an industry we are still compiling the hard stats but the early indications are that the weather changes are having a massive impact on the rat population.
“The problem is that it used to be that when we had cold weather in the winter, a natural percentage of the rat population was killed off by the temperatures.But now, with milder winters.
“The problem is doubled when you get hot springs like this year too, because not only are rats all surviving winter, but the lowest temperature they can reproduce at – around 12 to 14 C – are coming much earlier and so mating seasons start earlier and last longer.”
He said that essentially meant there were more rats with more time to reproduce, adding: “This is a very worrying time when it comes to rats and I think there is the potential for a rat population explosion.
“The weather is not the only factor that helps rats survive, but it’s the only one we can’t do anything about.”
Rats are prolific disease-carriers, able to transport around 30 that are dangerous to humans.
Mr Madge said: “If we get a population explosion, then there is far more chance of diseases like Weils disease in rural areas or salmonella in urban areas being passed from rats to humans.”
He said that there were other problems causing worry over rodent control.
He said: “There will always be rats and they will always bring problems. But though we can’t do something about the weather, we have got to attack the other three criteria rats need to survive – food, water and habitat.
“Actually one of the major problems as well as the weather is the fact there are more food sources now – there is much more junk food in circulation, particularly in towns and cities.
“In addition to that, some rats are now becoming immune to some of the rodenticides on the market at the moment – so it looks as though we’re going to have more rats and less products to control them.
“And even people trying to be greener doesn’t always help – things like building up compost heaps with food in can be a perfect environment for rats to survive in.
“But also we are not as good at sewer-bating any more – at actually killing off the rats in the habitats they survive in best.”
But he said fortnightly waste collection – brought in by some local councils – were not a major problem, if people organised their rubbish properly.
He added: “Fortnightly collections are just a bandwagon that people jump on so they can blame their council if rats become a problem. But it’s just pointing fingers really.
“If people use wheel bins and look after their waste build-ups properly, then they can avoid at least rubbish collection causing a problem.”
(EUNN) London – Russian authorities told British prosecutors that they would not permit the extradition of Andrei Lugovoy to the United Kingdom to stand trial in the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that Russia would not cooperate in extraditing Lugovoy. Russian newspaper, Regnum, reported that “the decision was made in accordance with Article 61 of the Russian constitution that rules out an opportunity to extradite a Russian citizen to another country and in accordance with point 1, Article 6 of the European Convention on Extradition of 1957.”
The Russian Prosecutors Office did offer to let Lugovoy stand trial in Moscow, which the CPS rejected.
The CPS, is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales, announced its decision to seek the extradition of Lugovoy on May 22, 2007. The formal response from the Russian authorities was received on July 9, 2007.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said, “The Russian response has now been conveyed to us and the Russian authorities have declined to extradite Andrei Lugovoy.”
“They have said that they are prepared to put Mr Lugovoy on trial in Russia if the evidence is forwarded to them.”
“The allegation against Mr Lugovoy is that he murdered a British citizen by deliberate poisoning and that he committed this extraordinarily grave crime here in our capital city. The appropriate venue for his trial is therefore London.”
The push to extradite Lugovoy for the murder of Litvinenko has turned into a political communication between Downing Street and the Kremlin where even Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia would not allow one of its citizens to be extradited by British authorities.
Litvinenko, 43, died of radiation poisoning after having met with Lugovoy, who is a former Russian KGB agent.
Litvinenko said from his death bed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning, which created an international stir in which Putin has denied any involvement or knowledge, but his comments to the press only drew deeper criticism of his involvement with some believing that Putin actually ordered Litvinenko’s execution. Putin himself is former KGB.
Shortly after the CPS began extradition proceedings, Lugovoy held a press conference in Moscow in which he told reporters that UK prosecutors should be looking at Boris Berezovsky, a wealthy former Russian businessman who dealt with British spies as a more likely candidate for murdering Litvinenko.
Lugovoy said Great Britain was making him a “scapegoat” in the death of the former Russian spy and that British Intelligence used Litvinenko to discredit Russian President Valdimir Putin, the same as they had tried to recruit him to do.
NEWCASTLE United, Portsmouth and Rangers were raided by the police overnight as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in football.
Police said the raids were not connected to Lord Stevens’ ongoing Quest inquiry into the English Premier League and were “totally independent”.
City of London Police would not disclose which clubs were involved, or their league status, but said search warrants were executed between 7.30am and 9am.
A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that search warrants were served at three football clubs and the homes of two individuals in connection with corruption in football and its impact on owners and shareholders.
“This investigation is a totally independent inquiry.
“It has not been influenced or informed by the Quest inquiry in any way.
“As this is a live investigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Northumbria Police said all inquiries about the raids are being handled by City of London Police, but a spokesman for the north east force said it was that “an operation” had been carried out earlier by its London colleagues at St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United.
Rangers confirmed it had been approached by police.
A club spokesman said: “Rangers Football Club was asked to co-operate with the police investigation and have done so, extending every co-operation.
“We have been requested by police not to comment further while the investigation continues.”
Gary Double, Portsmouth’s director of communications, also confirmed his club was involved.
He said: “We can confirm that the police arrived at about 10am this morning.
“We have co-operated fully with their search and will not be commenting further.”
Newcastle plc issued a statement which read: “Newcastle United can confirm that it was visited this morning by the City of London Police.
“The club itself is not the subject of the investigation.
“If the investigation by the City of London Police, or the ongoing internal review of operations by the club’s new owners, show that the club has been the victim of any criminal activity, the club will take appropriate action.”