Mayor of New York City Eric Adams is ramping up plans to go after New York’s growing urban rat population. As part of this campaign, he recently installed Kathleen Corradi as Director of Rodent Mitigation—colloquially referred to as the first “Rat Czar.” Allegedly, Corradi was chosen because the city needed someone “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty,” with both “stamina and stagecraft.”
The campaign has been textured by political rhetoric describing the rat elimination campaign as a unifying, post-partisan process undertaken to confront a shared threat. According to statements made by Adams, it boils down to a city-wide commitment to “fight the real enemy—New York City’s relentless rat population.”
In what could be considered an ironic parallel to New York’s “tough” policy on crime, New York officials have so far attacked the problem of high rat populations by methods of brute force, attempting to eradicate dumpster-jumping rodents by means of direct extermination rather than addressing systemic causes. According to Michael Parsons, an urban ecologist at Fordham University who spoke to NPR about the issue, this policy may have been pursued without thoughtful regard to scientific research or outcomes.
“[It’s] really about understanding the biology of our enemy,” Parsons told NPR. He then suggested that the current policy merely addresses the symptoms of rat population growth (their mortal existence) rather than the root cause (their munching on available dumpster food).
Rat populations in New York City are estimated to have increased by nearly two-thirds since 2020—but whether the methods employed by the new “Rat Czar” or the Sun Tzu-like wisdom offered by researchers will prove effective in reducing rat populations remains to be seen.