Rat infestation shock at Sidmouth beauty spot

AN INFESTATION of rats at the Byes has alarmed nearby residents.

Environmental health chiefs say the problem, near rugby and football pitches in Sidford, has been made worse by members of the public putting “human food” down and “encouraging” the animals.

Householders have even been asked to stop feeding birds in their gardens to curb a “widespread” rodent issue at the beauty spot.

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokesman told the Herald: “Members of the public reported concerns a few weeks ago and also mentioned that they had seen people spreading food around.

“On investigating, our staff found that there was quite a widespread infestation of rats.”

He added that treatment of the area has been going on for six weeks and will continue until there are no more signs of activity.

The public has been urged not to tamper with signs or equipment and dog walkers have been advised to keep their pets on leads when in the area.

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“Environmental health officers have written to residents asking for their assistance by temporarily stopping feeding birds in their gardens,” added the spokesman.

“Although this is usually not a problem, it has been attracting rats into the gardens to feed, thus distracting them away from baits laid down.

“Staff are particularly asking people to cease the practice of scattering food around on public open spaces. Porridge oats, rice and bread have been seen in the undergrowth.

“This area is rich in birdlife and there is plenty of shelter and natural food, so their diet does not need to be supplemented with food intended for humans.