Grandad's shock as rats seen running around the children’s play area in Barnes Park
Sunderland City Council have said they are working “diligently” to reduce rodent numbers in Barnes Park after a grandad reported them running around the children’s play area.
Dan Siberry was visiting the park with his two-year-old granddaugther at around lunchtime on Saturday, October 9, when he captured numerous images of rats running around both the children’s play area and the pond.
The 67-year-old first saw a rodent running through the play area but thought that it may have just been a field mouse until someone pointed out that it was a rat.
The grandfather, from Houghton, had even spotted a member of the public feeding the rats around the pond, prompting him to leave the park with his granddaugther.
He said: “I just saw one at first and I originally thought that it was a field mouse before someone pointed out that it was a rat.
"We then left the play area and went for a walk around the pond and there was someone standing there feeding them which I thought was crazy.
"The rats were even swimming in the pond, and I didn’t even know that they could swim.
"There is potential for a seriously bad health risk, especially with children running around in close proximity to where they are.”
The deputy leader of Sunderland City Council and Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Claire Rowntree, highlighted that parks offer a good nesting site for rodents but that the local authority is working “diligently” to reduce their numbers.
Cllr Rowntree commented: "We’re absolutely committed to controlling and tackling pests across all of Sunderland and city parks have regular treatment programmes to address rodent populations, including Barnes Park.
“This work includes litter enforcement, regular collection of waste, backed up by specially designed rodent baiting stations and treatment products to help reduce numbers.
"Parks offer good harbourage and nesting sites, available water at lakes and ponds, and a never ending supply of food from bird feeders or dropped litter.
"We are continuing to work diligently on reducing rodent numbers and trust members of the public will act responsibly to take home their waste food and carefully control the amount of bird food they leave on the ground."