NASA landed on Mars again this week. Well, the computer geeks and math nerds didn’t, but their spacecraft did.
On a clear night, look up and try to find Mars. You wouldn’t have a clue where it is, unless it’s shining red, as it occasionally does.
You have to marvel at the intelligence and knowledge it takes to send a machine to rendezvous with Mars and land on it. It boggles the average mind.
At the other end of the spectrum is bureaucratic stupidity. There’s plenty of it on Earth. You can find it without being an expert of any kind.
For instance, ponder the rat infestation in St. John’s. There are rats downtown, mice at the mall, rats running across the road as you drive — the latter being a sighting somewhat less welcome than, say, a hare or a fox.
Intelligent bureaucrats — were they not an oxymoron — would give people tools to fight back. In a word: poison.
Here’s where the stupidity comes in: the only kind of poison you are allowed to buy is ineffectual. It won’t work. It is useless. (So are traps.)
The “poison” pellets sold in hardware stores will cost you about 20 bucks for a decent dose, but reading the directions is the first hint your money and efforts are wasted, and the rodents will prevail, rats and mice both. The label says the little bastards have to eat the pellets — and only the pellets — for eight straight days for the poison to be effective.
They would have to be mighty tasty for Mickey and Minnie to feast exclusively on them for more than a week, eschewing — so to speak — all other treats from garbage bins, compost piles, fallen apples and plums, etc.
Imagine the runts sitting down to dinner and Mickey complaining, “What? Hardware store poison again?”
Such attempts are doomed to failure. And yes, I speak from experience. The only way to rid your house, shed, basement, crawl space, garage, barn, chicken coop, movie theatre, etc. of rats and/or mice is to use bar poison for warfarin-resistant Norway rats.
The only way to rid your house, shed, basement, crawl space, garage, barn, chicken coop, movie theatre, etc. of rats and/or mice is to use bar poison for warfarin-resistant Norway rats.
Which brings us to the beauty of bureaucracy: it is now illegal.
Let me clarify. Until a few years ago, you could walk into various stores and purchase bar poison for warfarin-resistant Norway rats. A mere nibble of the stuff kills mice. Rats take a few days longer, but they will be dead and dispatched to the great rodent hole in the sky.
A store clerk informed me of the rule change. According to government regulations, you must have a licence to purchase bar poison for warfarin-resistant Norway rats.
According to the Department of Environment’s website, this involves passing a test and paying $250 for a licence.
What is the rat rationale for this regulation? It is a mystery. Perhaps it’s simply a money grab. Maybe pest-control contractors put pressure on the government to implement such a restriction because they were losing business to kill-it-yourselfers. Maybe cat lovers complained that their beloved kitties were losing one or more of their nine lives by ingesting poison intended for rats.
And what of the “test”? The stuff isn’t plutonium. Rule 1: wear gloves. Rule 2: make sure it isn’t accessible to cats or kids. Put a bar of poison in a plastic bottle with a narrow opening. Cats won’t be able to get in, and kids won’t be able to get it out. But rats (and mice) can get in.
Typically, the government treats people as if they are irresponsible idiots. Even possessing the stuff without a licence is now illegal. Those two packages I recently brought home from Alberta apparently make me an outlaw. So be it. I am a satisfied rodent-slayer.
I hope everyone enjoyed Sunday’s downtown Santa Claus parade. I hope everyone is enjoying the rat infestation.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.