An anonymous activist and self-professed vegan in Bergen has become a target of public condemnation for his campaign in support of rats. He thinks rats deserve more respect and have suffered unjustly after being accused of bringing the plague to Bergen and the rest of Norway in 1349.
Newspaper Dagbladet reports that the so-called rottemannen (rat-man) launched his crusade on behalf of rats in January, right when city officials were in the midst of pest control efforts to ward off what they called a “rat invasion” in the popular city on Norway’s west coast. He had observed rats feeding off garbage near a downtown tram stop and instead of being frightened or repelled he found the rats “fascinating and fine.”
He then launched a campaign to save the rats, sabotaging and stealing rat traps set out by the city and spray-painting messages around town to “let the rats live.” He has also set up small graves for dead rats.
City officials have filed police complaints against him while top local politicians have denounced him for his attempt “to liberate the rats.” Others have suggested he’s mentally ill and should be confined, but he claims he’s perfectly healthy and views himself as both an animal rights activist and artist.
“I think that if I do something to protect part of the universe that’s threatened, the universe will protect me,” he told Dagbladet. He has so far eluded arrest.