This is not the sort of news we like to report on but, alas, we are just fulfilling our duty: according to government data obtained by the New York Daily News, rat sightings across the city have increased by 71% since this time in 2020.
The numbers are particularly worrisome given the slew of measures that officials have unleashed in recent months in order to curtail the problem. Among them: the removal of outdoor dining sheds that folks believed would draw out the pests.
According to the paper, “the city experienced a massive surge in rat complaints in 2021 […] but, if the rat-filled view from the street level was alarming last fall, it has only worsened in 2022.”
Specifically, citizens reported 12,636 vermin sightings at the end of September of 2020 through the 311 office. That number jumped to 18,601 just a year later and, at the end of this past September, the count reached 21,577. That’s a lot.
We’re not surprised. Given the hefty amount of construction across town and the horrible trash collection methods that have come under scrutiny, it was only a matter of time until the rodents came out to play without a shed of embarrassment (yes, we know we’re talking about mice here).
Before you completely despair, we’d like to remind you that, back in July, four members of the City Council presented a five-point “Rat Action Plan” to try and solve the issue.
Expected to pass some time this month (woohoo!), the proposal relies on the establishment of “rat mitigation zones,” where the city would be tasked with doubling down its efforts to control the rodent population. The Sanitation Department would come up with the parameters for each zone, also determining goals for all areas.
The proposition also includes potential requirements for buildings to use rodent-proof trash bins and a new associated system of violations in response to possible refusals to do so. The politicians would also like to require developers to present rodent mitigation plans alongside construction project blueprints moving forward to prevent rats from showing up in the first place.
Add to it all the city’s recently announced limits on how long trash bags can sit on a sidewalk and the installation of new giant garbage bins across the five boroughs and you’ve got yourself a respectable attempt at curtailing the rodent problem.
So common is the rat issue that the city even operates an entire information portal that highlights up-to-date inspection results and follow-up actions through an interactive map.
You can find the portal right here, where you can search by address, borough, block, lot number or neighborhood and look up specific rat inspection history. Fair warning, though: you might actually get nauseous.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.