A local church’s graveyard has been closed to the public due to a rodent infestation. Authorities believe this to be the result of a local resident, dubbed the ‘rat man’, feeding the pests.
Highfield Church’s graveyard has been closed from public access by local authorities to manage the infestation, cutting off the brief shortcut for students walking to either Avenue or Highfield Campus.
The ‘rat man’ has been seen leaving food around the streets and has been spotted buying up to 20kg of wheat, which has been recovered from the rat’s burrows around the Highfield area.
The Daily Echo has reported that the ‘rat man’ has been served a Community Protection Notice to stop him leaving food for rats, or face a fine if he fails to comply.
Southampton City Council’s Pest Control Manager, Justin Crow told the Daily Echo: “It’s a difficult situation but it’s got to be resolved. It’s a public health concern and has just got so desperate.
“We’ve tried everything from culls to terriers but they don’t achieve a lot – it’s poisoning that will get rid of them. The rats are destroying the ecology of the area.”
Rodent specialists will be spending the next six weeks poisoning the burrows to discover the extent of the network. Residents of the area have been advised to keep pets indoors as a result of the extermination procedure.