THERE are many beautiful sights to take in at the lake in Llandrindod Wells – but watching rats scurry about and carrying away scraps of food probably isn’t high on anyone’s list.

It has, however, become an increasingly regular occurrence. And, with the surrounding area of the lake having been overhauled dramatically over the last few years, enhancing it as a picturesque beauty spot attracting walkers, nature lovers and families, concern is mounting.

Powys County Council (PCC) acknowledges the issue and says it will be installing new signs at the lake encouraging members of the public to do things like throw bird food into the water and not leave any on the paths or near bins – but one local wildlife enthusiast is calling for bolder action.

Peter Jennings, a Radnorshire county bird recorder, insists the local authority should adopt a zero tolerance approach and ban feeding at the lake altogether – much like feeding pigeons in London’s Trafalgar Square was made illegal in the early 2000s.

Mr Jennings says sightings of rats at the lake are nothing new and is in fact a “long-standing” issue dating back at least a quarter of a century.

But, with the revamped Lakeside Boathouse now under new ownership and attracting visitors galore, as well as introducing a popular new programme of watersports activities for locals to enjoy, not to mention the addition of a new children’s sandpit and play area and an amphitheatre where local musicians often entertain – the area is also attracting more unwanted visitors too.

“I have been counting birds at the lake since 1983 and have seen rats numerous times. Some years are worse than others,” said Mr Jennings.

“This has been a very long-standing problem which my father contacted the council several times about, 25 years ago at least.”

Mr Jennings said there have been several references to rats on the Radnor Birds Blog website too, including family groups of five and more being spotted in broad daylight where the public feed the ducks.

“They are mostly feeding on food being liberally thrown out by the public for the wildfowl,” he added.

“Personally, I think all feeding should be stopped, like pigeons are in Trafalgar Square, as it attracts rats which carry a number of very serious diseases including leptospirosis. It is spread via rat urine and it seems that at least 50 per cent of rats carry it.

“Also, I would have thought it prudent to suspend all the water-based activities until at least tests of the water have been carried out. The council has acted quickly in the past for blue-green algae outbreaks at the lake.

“Some serious action needs to carried out to get rid of the rats, which not only carry disease but eat the eggs and small young of the local coots and moorhens and doubtless other wildfowl, as well as frogs and other wildlife.

“Considering also that the lake and surrounding area is a Local Nature Reserve, and the only one in Powys, I think it is unacceptable.”

Mr Jennings has contacted the council and claims they aren’t concerned about the rat issue, saying they are careful not to mention rats on signage about feeding the ducks at the lake.

However, PCC did publish advice in July, asking people to be responsible when feeding birds and wildfowl following several incidences where ducks had been encouraged out of the water by food left for them on the roadside, only to subsequently be hit and killed by passing cars.

And the local authority acknowledges there is a rat problem. A spokesperson said: “We are urging visitors to Llandrindod Lake Park to act responsibly if they choose to feed the birds and wildfowl by not placing any food on the ground, benches, paths or bins.

“Leaving food on the ground and other places attracts vermin, encourages birds out of their safe habitats and results in a lot of mess on the paths around the lake.

“The council will be installing information signs around the lake encouraging visitors to use appropriate bird food only, feed the birds and wildfowl sparingly, throw the bird food into the water and do not leave any food on the ground, benches, paths or bins.

“If visitors follow these simple tips, it will remove any accessible food sources that attracts vermin.

“Pest control measures have limited impact, as rats are widely distributed and common in Britain. Care also must be taken to ensure that any pest control measures do not impact on non-target species.”