The city’s rat hotline has been ringing off the hook in 2015 — exceeding the normal rate of 24,000 calls for each of the past two years, according to the Associated Press. The rodents are engaging in turf wars with pigeons, stealing burritos, and parading their $1 slices through city subway stations. They’re even taking over local green spaces, according to one Upper West Side resident who told the AP her neighborhood park has become “the Burning Man of rats.”
It’s a battle that has been waging for decades, but officials say more calls and sightings don’t necessarily mean more rats; the new rodent-complaint smartphone app simply makes them easier to report — and smartphones in general make it easier for residents to call attention to sightings of note on social media. But there’s also no way of telling exactly how many rodents live among us. According to city rat expert Caroline Bragdon, we can only try to prevent them from thriving.
Bragdon leads a 50-person team to compile a citywide “rat index” in response to complaints every month, working with a budget of more than $3 million annually. She’s part of Mayor de Blasio’s new plan to eliminate rat habitats and food sources through traps, rodent-resistant trash cans, and removal of garbage leakage. And if that doesn’t work, maybe the next critter-complaint app will allow residents to call an Uber for the rat they just filmed eating a Cronut, transporting it to the Burning Man of rats that the city has decided to surrender to the rodents.