Protecting D.C. Wildlife Could Mean Dumping Rodents In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Protecting Maryland from Washington, D.C. rats. A state delegate claims a District of Columbia law aimed at protecting wildlife leaves Maryland open to a host of unwanted critters.

Political reporter Pat Warren explains the concern.

Wildlife. The heartfelt collective urge to protect nature’s creatures often conflicts with the regrettable need to control the animal population. But if there’s one population people seem to agree needs killing, it’s the rat.

“I’ve never gotten a phone call to protect a rat, but I get a lot of calls that we have a rat infestation and can you come down and take care of it,” said Del. Pat McDonough.

And that means exterminate. But the District of Columbia Wildlife Protection Act requires humane methods of controlling pests, including some types of rats. And those methods include capturing and relocating them.

“In the law you must transfer them to a sanctuary 25 miles away from ground zero, which means in Virginia and Maryland,” McDonough said.

Defenders of the act say it doesn’t apply to common city rodents, but in McDonough’s view, a rat by any other name is still a rat.

“The ones they are talking about are carriers and breeders and dangerous and always have been. They carry the same kind of similar diseases. Just because they’re more rare or something of that nature doesn’t make any difference,” he said.

The Maryland Attorney General’s office tells WJZ that any transport of animals to Maryland for release in the wild requires a permit from the Department of Natural Resources and that the animals must be free of disease.

“We are asking Washington, D.C. right now, what are the details of the program,” McDonough said.

McDonough’s bill is a work in progress.

The D.C. law took effect in 2010.

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