Unsurprisingly, in New York City, where garbage is routinely left outside on the curb before it is collected the next morning, rats are feasting on the detritus and the number of rat sightings has soared.
According to OpenTheBooks.com and The New York Times, 12,617 rat sightings were reported to the city’s 311 hotline in 2014; by 2018 that number had skyrocketed to 17,353, 38% higher. The Times reported, “In the same period, the number of times that city health inspections found active signs of rats nearly doubled.”
More evidence of the rat outbreak: 30,874 “active rat signs,” were reported to city health inspections last year, compared to 16,315 in 2014. From January 1, 2019, through the end of March, 8003 inspection reports were made of active rat signs as opposed to 6787 in the same period of 2018.
In February 2017, NBC News reported that a resident of the Bronx died after having contact with rat urine; leptospirosis infections were identified on the 700 block of Grand Concourse; three people were diagnosed with the disease; one died.
The Times noted, “But after dropping last year, rat sightings are again on the upswing. The top spot for rat sighting complaints has been the Upper West Side, where residents are known for speaking up, followed by four Brooklyn neighborhoods: Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick and Ocean Hill.”
Michael Deutsch, an entomologist, told the Times, “You can’t just go in and order an airstrike — and then leave. Rat populations can rebound unless you are always pressing them.”
Laura Anglin, deputy mayor of operations, admitted, “There is no doubt that rats have a major impact on New Yorkers’ quality of life and this administration takes seriously our responsibility to control and mitigate their population. No New Yorker likes having rats in their community and we are committed to continuing the work of controlling rats in all of our neighborhoods.”
Bobby Corrigan, a rat-catching consultant, told The Guardian in December 2018, “We are at war but we don’t have weapons to fight the war. We could get the rat numbers down to tolerable levels but we need to rethink our whole system of doing things. There are litter baskets all over New York City and every night you see rats in there gorging themselves because it’s easy. There are mountains of bags of garbage in the city and the rats are saying, ‘Thanks, we will bite through that and eat at will.’ The rats are taking advantage of our weaknesses.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2017 of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vaunted plan to eradicate rats:
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said 10 New York City Housing Authority developments will get dry-ice rat abatement treatments, exterminators, new wastebaskets, trash compactors and concrete floors to cover dirt-floor basements … “Our city is associated for many generations with the problem of rats,” he said. “A lot of people have tried to win this war and haven’t succeeded.”