RATS & THE CITY

Rats like hanging out in Harlem, on the Upper West Side and in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Hot summer nights drive their passion for reproducing. So, what’s being done to stop this vermin explosion?

Aired on September 10, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

RATS.

YOU SEE THEM SCURRYING ALONG SUBWAY TRACKS, FORAGING THROUGH TRASH AND LINKERING IN DANK CONDITIONS IN THE CITY.

BUT THE POPULATION THAT RANGES ANYWHERE BETWEEN 250,000 TO PERHAPS A MILLION, NEW YORKERS HAVE HAD ENOUGH.

SO WHAT'S THE ANSWER FO FIXING THE RAT PROBLEM?

HERE TO PROVIDE SOME ANSWERS, A MAN OFTEN REFERRED TO AS THE RAT CZAR AND EXPERT, ROBERT CORRIGAN.

NICE TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

THANK YOU.

NICE TO BE HERE.

I JUST PUT OUT A NUMBER THAT GOES FROM ANYWHERE AS LOW AS 250,000 TO PERHAPS MILLIONS.

DO WE KNOW?

DO WE HAVE ANY REAL HARD IDEA HOW MANY IRIARTES THERE ARE IN THE CITY?

YOU KNOW, WE DON'T.

IT WOULD BE VERY DIFFICULT TO EVEN GET IN ON THAT.

THE RATS INB HABIT ALL KINDS OF WHERE WE CAN'T COUNT.

SO IT'S VERY DIFFICULT.

THERE'S PROBABLY MILLIONS.

SOMEWHERE IN THE LOWER MILLIONS, BUT WE'RE NOT SURE.

WHEN WE SAY THAT THE RAT POPULATION IS GROWING, IS THAT AN ECK DOE TALL OR ARE WE ABLE TO REALLY IN SOME SCIENTIFIC WAY, CONFIRM THAT YES, INDEED, THE RAT POPULATION IS INCREASING?

I THINK GROWING.

I SAY THAT FROM A COUPLE OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.

I MYSELF WAS AN EXTERMINATOR BACK IN THE '70s.

I DID A LOT OF WORK IN MANHATTAN.

I REMEMBER HOW MANY RAT JOBS I DID.

BUT THESE DAYS AS A SCIENTIST, I MEASURE RAT INCREASES BY SPEAKING WITH MANY PROFESSIONALS AROUND THE CITY.

I LOOK AT 311 DATA.

THE SIMPLIES THAT ARE PUCHLS PURCHASED FOR RAT CONTROL.

IF YOU ADD IT UP, THE RATS ARE IN FACT INCREASING, BUT THE INTERESTING THING IS THAT IN SOME NEIGHBORHOODS, THEY SEEM TO BE DOWN.

PROBABLY BECAUSE WE ARE GETTING A HANDLE ON IT LIKE THE BOROUGH IN MANHATTAN.

SO NOT ACROSS THE BOARD.

NO.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE INCREASES ARE TAKING PLACE?

WELL, YOU KNOW, IT'S DIFFICULT.

THERE'S A LOT OF FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE RAT POPULATIONS, BUT THE PRIMARY FACTOR IS RATS FOLLOW HUMANS.

SO WHERE HUMANS INCREASE AND HUMAN POPULATIONS INCREASE AND WITH OUR HUMANS COME OUR GARBAGE AND CLUTTER AROUND DEBRIS AND INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIRS.

SO THE RATS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHERE EVER PEOPLE INCREASE, MANY TIMES THEY'RE RIGHT BEHIND US.

WHY WOULD YOU THINK SOME NEIGHB NEIGHBORHOODS --

THE STUDY QUITE FRANKLY.

HOWEVER, I THINK THAT IF YOU LOOK AT THOSE AREAS THAT ARE SHOWING INCREASES B, THERE, TOO, I THINK YOU'LL SEE AN INCREASE IN DENSITY AND WITH THE PROBLEMS THAT COME WITH DENSITY, IT'S MORE DIFFICULT TO COLLECT TRASH IN A TIMELY MANNER.

AS MANY CLUTTER, AS MORE AND POPULATIONS PUT OUT THEIR TRASH PILES AND JUNK AND SO FORTH.

IS THERE A SOCIOECONOMIC LINK IN TERM OF NABLDS AND THE RISE AND FALL OF THE RAT POPULATION?

I THINK THERE IS AND THERE'S SOME GOOD POPULATION THAT SUGGEST RATS TEND TO BE ASSOCIATED IN MORE CASES WITH POVERTY STRICKEN AREAS, WHICH MAKES SENSE.

YOU KNOW IN POVERTY STRICKEN NEIGHBORHOODS, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE THE BEST BUILDINGS WITH THE BEST FOUNDATIONS AND ALL THE REPAIRS BEING DONE AND RATS NEED VERY SMALL HOLES TO GET INTO THE FOUNDATIONS THAT ARE WEARING OVER TIME.

THOSE MAY BE LESS EXPENSIVE PROPERTIES, SO O THERE'S MORE HARBORAGE.

TWO, THERE IS WHERE PEOPLE ARE SUBJECT TO POVERTY AND LOW SOCIOECONOMIC CONDITIONS, THEY MAY NOT BE ABLE THE TO AFFORD THE SERVICES OF PROFESSIONAL EXTERMINATORS, SO THEY DON'T HAVE A REGULAR ROUTINE, PROFESSIONAL COMING BY AND HELPING TO KEEP THOSE NUMBERS IN CHECK.

SO THERE ARE A LOT OF FACTORS.

YES, THERE'S PROBABLY MORE RATS ASSOCIATED WITH POVERTY STRICKEN AREAS.

THE LAST AREA I WANT TO TOUCH ON WITH YOU IS WHAT CAN CAN WE DO?

THAT'S THE KEY QUESTION BECAUSE THAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION.

YOU KNOW, THE THING FOR EVERYONE TO KEEP IN MIND IS A RAT IS A RELATIVELY LARGE MAMMAL.

ONE TO THREE OUNCES OF FOOD EVERY SINGLE NIGHT SO IF THERE'S A LOT OF RATS ON SOMEONE'S BLOCK OR AROUND SOMEBODY'S PROPERTY, THE FIRST THING THEY SHOULD ASK, WHERE ARE THOSE RATS GETTING THEIR DAILY NUTRITION AND HOW AM I RESPONSIBLE?

PERHAPS AM I RESPONSIBLE?

IS THERE SOME OTHER FOOD SOURCE THAT I NEED TO CHECK?

WHERE THERE'S RATS, USUALLY FOOD AND WHAT CAN A RESIDENT DO IS ASK THAT QUESTION, WHERE ARE THEY GETTING FOOD AND CAN I DO SOMETHING TO HELP CORRECT THAT.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU, HOW ABOUT -- WHAT CAN WE REALIST CLICK EXPECT THE CITY TO DO TO HELP COMBAT THIS.

WELL, FIRST THING TO KEEP IN MIND AS A CITY WITH A STAFF, THEY HAVE A TERRIFIC STAFF HERE IN PEST CONTROL SERVICES, BUT THIS IS MUCH BIGGER THAN ONE AGENCY.

MILLIONS O RATS SPREAD FROM EVERY SINGLE BOROUGH.

HOWEVER, THAT SAID, I THINK THE CITY'S BEEN MAKING PRETTY IMPRESSIVE MOVES FORWARD BECAUSE THEY'RE ALLOCATING MONEY TOWARDS SCIENCE.

FOR THE LAST, SIX, SEVEN YEAR, MONEY HAS BEEN COMING TO THE AGENCIES WHERE WE CAN STUDY DATA AND THE SCIENCE OF RATS.

WHY ARE THEY IN CERTAIN NEIGHBORHOODS, AND ONCE WE GET THE SCIENCE TO GET A FULLER PROFILE ON WHAT IS INVOLVED WITH THESE RATS, THEN WE CAN ADDRESS IT ARE WITH MORE EFFICIENT WAY, YOU KNOW BUT THE CITY HAS TO KEEP UP ITS CONSTANT SURVEILLANCE, GOING UP AND DOWN BLOCKS IN COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL AREAS.

I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR SOME REALLY GOOD INFORMATION AND GREAT ADVICE AS TO HOW WE CAN ALL PITCH IN TO HELP.

THANKS FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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