Rats! Ban on feeding birds and litter blitz after vermin plague in Amsterdam

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

They were scrabbling out of second-floor toilets, running alongside prams on the morning nursery drop-off and becoming what locals described as a plague of rats in Amsterdam’s Rivierenbuurt.

Two months after residents sent a formal complaint to the city about their rat problem, Amsterdam has decided to ban all feeding of birds (and other animals) in the southern district, Zuid. Warning signs are being mounted and the fine for breaking the immediate ban is a minimum of €70.

‘Often people think that they are helping the birds,’ said the city in a news release. ‘But feeding them gives them unbalanced and unnecessary food. Public health service research shows that excessive feeding leads to fewer types of birds and less healthy birds.’

The city is asking residents not to throw any food on the streets or in gardens, especially not bread for the birds, put rubbish immediately in a closed container and make sure to cut back undergrowth where rats can nest.

Anke Bakker, a councillor for the pro-animal Partij voor de Dieren, has however defended the vermin and called for humane treatment of the rats. She said in written questions to the mayor that it is people’s own ‘dirty behaviour that is the problem…making the area into a fully-laden table for these four-legged guests.’

Although the city admits that the coronavirus restrictions have led to an ‘explosive’ increase in household rubbish, spilling onto the streets, it has begun a rubbish offensive to target 150 areas with the worst problems and cut back greenery in Zuid. Meanwhile the area’s sewers are being overhauled, although the GGD public health service denies that the figures suggest a ‘plague’ of rats.

It is hoped that the rubbish and feeding ban will also lead to a reduction in nuisance from pigeons and seagulls.

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