Families have been banned from feeding the ducks in a city park – to tackle a major rat problem.
Signs have been installed in Preston’s Moor Park warning people not to “feed the rats” at the Serpentine Lake, in a bid to stop any food being brought into the area.
And those caught breaking the new rules could face fixed penalties or even prosecution and a £2,500 fine, as council bosses clamp down on the vermin.
Coun Robert Boswell, cabinet member for community and environment, said: “The rats aren’t stupid. Why eat poison when you can eat bread, rice and pizza?
“There is simply too much food for the rats to eat and the Serpentine Lake has become something of a ‘rat nirvana’.
“It is only once we are able to control the food the rats are eating that we will be able to control the rat population.
There is simply too much food for the rats to eat and the Serpentine Lake has become something of a ‘rat nirvanaCoun Robert Boswell
“We have looked at shooting the rats but we have ruled this out on the grounds of health and safety.
“The lake is such a big area that we cannot guarantee that shooting would be 100 per cent safe. And besides, shooting is not really a humane way of dealing with the rats.
“So, we would ask people not to leave any food in the park, especially at the lake, as this is the only real way to control the rats.”
The council has laid poison for the rats, but bosses say food left by visitors means they don’t eat it. The council has now reached the limit of the amount of poison that can be put down, and has spent £1,000 on the new signs.
Coun Terry Cartwright, who had campaigned for the council to take action, said: “I understand people like to go and feed the ducks and watch the wildlife at the lake, but we have to deal with the problem of the rats.
“Let’s cut off their food supply at source and then see what happens.
“We can only do this with the help of local people so please observe the signs and don’t bring any bread or food for the ducks or fish. You are only feeding the rats and no one really wants to do that.”
People caught throwing or leaving food could be given an £80 fixed penalty, or could even be taken to court and face a fine of up to £2,500.