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New York celebrates progress in city’s ‘war on rats’

New York is winning its “war on rats”, with sightings down by six per cent in the city, according to data from the department of sanitation.

It comes after the introduction of a pilot project requiring all businesses to put their trash into containers, instead of leaving the bags on the streets.

The new rule was trialled in the Hamilton Heights neighbourhood, which has seen a 68 per cent decrease in rat sightings.

Rat sightings are down 16 per cent in other “rat mitigation zones” and down six per cent all across the city, according to the department of sanitation.

The department added that the decrease seen after the containerisation rules were put in place is the largest year-over-year decrease in rat sightings for almost 15 years.

New York is winning its ‘war on rats’, with sightings down by six per cent in the city (Getty Images)
New York is winning its ‘war on rats’, with sightings down by six per cent in the city (Getty Images)

“The trend is clear: before the containerisation rollout began, 2023 was on track for another increase,” the department said in a statement posted on X. “Everything changed when bins started hitting the streets. And we’re not backing down from this effective strategy.

“In 2024, more bins are coming citywide, whether the rats like it or not,” the statement added.

The rules for containers are due to take effect citywide in March.

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, has made the war on rats a key platform of his administration. In addition to the Hamilton Heights pilot project, which has cost the city $5.7 million to implement, a new rule was put in place last year requiring all food businesses, such as restaurants, bodegas, bars and delis to put their trash in bins.

The rules will now apply to all businesses across the city from March. Meanwhile, from next fall, all residential buildings with nine units or less will be required to use containers.

This follows the appointment of “Rats Czar”, Kathleen Corradi, a former elementary school teacher and anti-rat activist, by Mayor Adams last year.

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, has made the war on rats a key platform of his administration (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, has made the war on rats a key platform of his administration (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“Between what we’ve started in 2023, and the rules we’ve already announced for 2024, we think we’re making real progress on the war on rats in New York City,” sanitation commissioner Jessica Tisch told Eyewitness News in September last year.

“And the early indications, both from this residential pilot of fixed containers on the street and the commercial rules are really good,” she added.

Ms Tisch also said complaints about rats in the city were down following the start of the pilot project, which began in August 2023.

“We are breaking a trend. So it’s not just that they are going down, it’s that they’re going down in the context of previous years where they’ve only gone up,” Ms Tisch said.

Responding to the latest data from the department of sanitation, New York City council member Shaun Abreu added: “Our @NYCSanitation containerization pilot in West Harlem is working, and we have the numbers to prove it. Since implementation, there has been a *68% decrease* in rat sightings.

“We’re taking this citywide and sending the rats packing – for good. Better start running, Jerry!”