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13 Apr, 2023 16:04

New York mayor appoints ‘rat czar’

Mayor Eric Adams’ rodent crackdown comes after rat sightings doubled under his watch
New York mayor appoints ‘rat czar’

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has named the Big Apple’s first ever “rat czar.” The mayor has long promised to bring down the city’s booming rat population, but their numbers have swelled under his tenure.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Adams named Kathleen Corradi as the city’s new ‘Director of Rodent Mitigation’, or “rat czar.” According to a press release from the mayor’s office, Corradi will serve as the public face of Adams’ rodent reduction efforts, and will liaise between New York’s existing rat experts in the departments of Sanitation, Health, and Parks and Recreation.

Calling Corradi a “maestro,” Adams claimed that his new ratcatcher-general will implement “new technologies to detect and exterminate rat populations” and try “innovative ways to cut off rats’ food sources.”

New York’s rat population has soared under Adams’ tenure, with sightings doubling between 2021 and 2022. While Adams’ office has blamed the increase on the fact that more inspections took place last year than the year before, his opponents say that cutbacks to garbage collection during the coronavirus pandemic triggered the population boom.

Adams has since limited the amount of time trash cans can sit on the sidewalk without being picked up, and on Wednesday announced the creation of a ‘Harlem Rat Exclusion Zone’ in which buildings will be rat-proofed and more traps laid down.

Despite the fanfare, Corradi won’t actually be wading into rodent dens or leading hungry terriers into infested basements. The new czar has a background in teaching, rather than pest control, and previously served as a planning director for the city’s department of education in the borough of Queens. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, she said that she favored “humane” methods of rat control and would bring “a science- and systems-based approach to fight rats.”

New York City is home to an estimated two million rats, according to a 2014 study. Previous administrations have attempted to solve the problem with limited success, and Corradi’s title is a nod to the “rat czar” nickname given to Deputy Mayor Joseph Lhota, who was appointed by Rudy Giuliani to “eradicate rats” in 2000. 

For all of Adams’ talk, he hasn’t been able to fix a rat infestation in his own backyard. After the mayor was fined at least four times by the city for failing to control the creatures in his Brooklyn apartment, his political rival Curtis Sliwa publicly offered to lend Adams one of his cats earlier this year.

“He’s tried everything,” Sliwa said. “But it’s time that we revert to the best measure that’s ever worked. And that’s cats.”

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