Welcome New York City's First-ever 'Rat Czar'

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

New York City is home to 8.5 million people. It’s also home to at least 2 million rats. While the rats are no doubt pleased to live in close proximity to so many humans, people do not generally reciprocate those warm feelings.


Urban rats can literally grow as big as cats. And they can be as bold as brass. I once saw a ferret-sized rat walking down the middle of a Clark Street sidewalk. People stopped and stared but the rat just continued on his merry way, secure in the knowledge he was untouchable.

They breed like, well, like rats. Female rats have between five and 12 “pups” every litter and can have seven litters a year (ain’t Google grand?).

New York City is not the worst rat-infested hellhole in the United States. That distinction goes to my beloved Chicago. And the problem is getting worse.

It seems that all those outdoor eating areas built during the pandemic were invitations to dinner for rats. All that extra food has led to an explosion in rat populations.

So New York City will address the problem by hiring a piper to pipe the rats away. Once notice went out and more than a thousand people applied for the job but in the end, Mayor Eric Adams settled on former school teacher Kathleen Corradi to perform the role of “Rat Czar.”

Corradi has already heard all the jokes about maybe starting at city hall, so don’t bother her with trivialities. This is serious business, and Ms. Corradi will have an uphill battle on her hands.


The Hill:

Corradi previously worked on rodent reduction efforts at the Department of Education, where she focused on cutting off rats’ food, water, and shelter supplies. She plans to do the same in her new role. Corradi said getting food and leftover waste into rat-proof compost bins is a start, but broader efforts are expected.

“Rats are symptoms of systemic issues. You can’t deal with one part of the problem,” Corradi said. “This is going to take all of us.”

Adams said he interviewed Corradi and was impressed with her emotional intelligence and how she collected signatures as a child to get rid of rats in her neighborhood. But ultimately, it was her character that earned her the spot, he said.

“We have found our rat czar,” Adams said.

Corradi will pull down $155,000 a year in her new position as “director of rodent mitigation.”

“You’ll be seeing a lot of me and a lot less rats,” Corradi said.

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Adams recently instituted new garbage collection rules that are designed to help reduce the rat population.

The new appointment also comes on the heels of the new garbage collection rules that went into effect this month, which are part of Adams’ push to eradicate rats in the five boroughs. The plan also aims to make city streets cleaner by reducing the amount of time filthy, smelly trash bags can sit on the street.

Rats and humans have lived in close proximity to one another since the dawn of civilization and will continue to co-exist long after Corradi and you and I are dust. But rats have become more of a political issue due to their higher visibility. If the rats were smart enough to practice birth control, they probably wouldn’t be targeted.

So for now, it’s a war on rats, and Ms. Corradi is New York’s general.



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