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03/04/2013

Snipers to kill rats in Iran?

Snipers to kill rats in Iran?

So say reports out of Tehran. Snipers have been deployed in the city to “combat a plague of mutant rats that are increasingly resistant to poison” and are so big that even cats are scared of them.

Ten teams of sharpshooters armed with rifles equipped with infra-red sights have bagged more than 2,000 of the brutish rodents in recent weeks, The National reported on Monday.

The National wrote:

It's become a 24/7 war,” a grim-faced Mohammad Hadi Heydarzadeh, the head of Tehran municipality’s environmental agency, declared on state television last month. "We use chemical poisons to kill the rats during the day and the snipers at night."

The city is soon boosting the number of squads to 40.

(It is hard to believe but Iran’s rat population outnumbers the capital’s 12 million inhabitants.)

According to reports, some of these notorious residents weigh about 11 pounds, more than what the cats in the city weigh. The problem gets worse as winter turns to spring, snow melts in the mountains and the city’s water table rises — pushing the rats into close contact with humans.

Rodents, black and brown ones, have been a problem for many years in Tehran. In 2000, officials launched a poison control program they hoped would kill many of the estimated 25 million rats.

More than a decade later, it's still on. And now the snipers have also been roped in.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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Canadian farmers and ranchers have had hunters roam their fields shooting prairie dogs for years. their burrows can break horses' or livestock legs.

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