Yes, you read that correctly - no rats.
|Not an actual sign at the border...|
Image: © Kathy Gold | Dreamstime.com
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development even has a Rat Patrol - no, I'm not kidding. One of the recent skirmishes between Albertans and rats even had a military-esque name: "Operation Haystack."
I suspect we are the only place in the world where a rat found in someone's garage or in the local landfill would make headlines, but it does. When rats try to invade (they usually stage their attacks from the east), it makes headline news. The papers and TV news broadcasts show footage, sending out reporters to cover the breaking news and everything. A lot of news folks have covered the stories, including the National Post, Yahoo!News, CBC News, Globe and Mail, CTV news, The Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post.
I haven't seen the animated film Ratatouille, but I have it on good authority that even they mention Alberta and its rat-free status.
I guess if you are going to be known internationally for something, being a rat-free zone isn't so bad.
News Flash for Writers
If you write a book set in Alberta, you need to know this quirky little rat fact. You see, a few years ago, I started reading a book, which was set in Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta. On the first page, the character saw a rat in an alley and reacted like that was a normal thing. I couldn't make myself read past the first scene because that rat sighting kept haunting me. Perhaps that was a stupid reason to put down a book, but it made me question whether the author knew anything at all about their setting. My irritation, I realize, may have been unfair - this rat-free status is apparently a bit of a novelty, so perhaps it is unreasonable for me to expect someone to fact check whether or not a rat would live in an Edmonton alley - but I still couldn't make myself continue reading. Perhaps the rest of the scene wasn't well-written enough to get me over that inaccuracy, I can't remember now ... I only remember the rat.
Have you ever stopped reading a book because the author got a fact or detail wrong?