An historic town faces being "overrun" by a giant rat infestation after its council banned killing them.
Poison traps have been outlawed in Bradford upon Avon amid fears they could also kill protected species like birds of prey.
The Wiltshire town council has been branded "dangerous" after saying it "will, as far as the law allows, deny access to those engaged in, and otherwise prohibit, culling or hunting and other types of animal destruction on lands that it controls or manages".
It added that "where necessary, this will include deployment of nonlethal methods of rodent control on council lands".
The area's Wiltshire Council Unitary Authority says rat infestations are "a common problem in rural and urban areas" and carried out more than 1,200 exterminations last year.
Scott Mays, director of Wiltshire Pest Services, told the Telegraph: "Rats are pretty prevalent there [Bradford upon Avon] because of the old network of drains, lots of them get out of the sewers and they can get into properties by those means as well.
"The only non-lethal type of control would be a livecapture trap that would have to be checked every 24 hours.
"I don't quite know how that would work – the town would be overrun with rats.
Man dressed as giant rat riding train admits 'it's easy to stay socially distanced'
Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, added the ban could put "people's health at risk" from a number rodent diseases.
He added it would "leave pest controllers with the ridiculous option of catching rats and releasing them to return to their food source.
"It is astonishing that a local council would seek to prevent the legal control of rodents and pests when the overwhelming evidence makes clear that it is necessary to do so to protect public health, particularly in a town located next to a river.
Colony of cannibal rats found living inside world-famous Brit sculpture
"This was a dangerous decision and in the interest of public health, Bradford on Avon council should urgently reverse it."
In a statement, the council said: "While rodents in significant quantities and in urban settings can, of course, present health and safety issues, we aim to prevent problems from occurring in the first instance, with regular monitoring and efficient waste management.
"This way we can avoid methods which could cause unnecessary suffering and distress, or the deployment of harmful chemicals."
Source: Read Full Article