Sorry Master Splinter. New York City’s first Anti-Rat Day of Action will be held this Saturday, Aug 12 in Harlem. The event takes place at 137th Street’s Elizabeth Langley Memorial Garden.

The event offers locals insight and strategies toward reducing rodent encounters by cutting the critters off from their food source. It is co-hosted by Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and the BUFNY II/Harlem Street Tenants Association. 

“It’s still early, but these numbers show what we’re doing is working and that we are moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Adams. “Every food scrap that we keep out of the trash and every black bag that we keep off the street is a meal that we’re taking out of a hungry rodent’s stomach. 

“It takes all of us to win the war on rats, so I encourage New Yorkers to keep composting, keep putting your trash in containers, and I hope to see you out there at one of our ‘Anti-Rat Community Days of Action.’”

The city claims within the rat mitigation zones like Harlem’s, reported sightings have been reduced by 45%, as of late July. It also says total rat-related 311 calls are down by 20%, which was reiterated by rat czar Kathleen Corradi at a recent public safety briefing. 

“New York City Parks, New York City Schools and NYCHA are doubling down on rat reduction, utilizing seasonal staff and pest control teams to make sure our city’s properties are inhospitable to rats,” she said. “They’re removing harbourage, managing waste, and deploying extermination techniques to make sure we’re knocking down rat populations. Citywide, we’re cutting off rats from their food because we know, if you feed them, you breed them. 

“Through DSNY’s new curb set out times and rules around containerizations for food establishments, we’re systematically taking away rats’ access to fruit food on our curbs and making New York a cleaner city.”

Earlier this month, food-related businesses were restricted from dumping waste in black trash bags directly on the curb and are now mandated to place garbage in containers unless it’s collected by a loading dock, or if the contents are recyclables. Such black bags can leak and attract rats, says the NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY). 

According to Corradi, rats communicate largely through pheromones. So spraying down a curb is the best bet to keep personal rodent sightings to Pixar movies. Corradi suggests using a mix of one part bleach and nine parts water.

As of press time, there have been 24 rat sightings reported to the city this month from Harlem’s five main zip codes. Half were seen in multi-family apartments. 

While uptown will be the first to host an anti-rat day, the city says each borough will receive one. Harlem is one of four neighborhoods picked for rat mitigation zones, with the others being Bronx Grand Concourse, Bed-Stuy/Bushwick, and East Village/Chinatown.
Tandy Lau is a Report for America corps member and writes about public safety for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep him writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.

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