HEAT ALERT

Heat advisory issued for Brooklyn through 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Teacher’s pest: NYC hires former educator to slaughter rats

Mayor Eric Adams' new "rat czar" will coordinate across city agencies, community organizations and the private sector to reduce the rat population in the five boroughs.

Associated Press

Apr 12, 2023, 4:12 PM

Updated 460 days ago

Share:

NEW YORK — Every New York City mayor has waged war — and mostly lost — against one of humanity’s most cunning and enduring foe: rattus norvegicus. But has the city’s vilest enemy, better known as the common brown rat, finally met its match?
Mayor Eric Adams introduced a former elementary school teacher and anti-rat activist as his new “rat czar” on Wednesday. Officially, Kathleen Corradi, the mayor’s new hire, will be known as the director of rodent mitigation.
Corradi is tasked with battling the potentially millions of rats lurking in myriad urban nooks and crannies, subway tunnels and empty lots.
Hers is a new job, which the city advertised with a help-wanted ad seeking applicants who are “bloodthirsty,” possess “killer instincts” and could commit to the “wholesale slaughter” of rats.
“When I first saw this job posting, I wasn’t sure if it was real. ‘Blood thirsty’ is not a word you usually see in a job description and it’s certainly not a word I usually (use to) describe myself,” Corradi said in a news conference at a Harlem park.
“You’ll be seeing a lot of me and a lot less rats,” she vowed.
Rats have long bedeviled the city, a top public concern along with crime, homelessness and exorbitant rents. No traps nor poisonous bait have fully succeeded in reducing their numbers. Rats have thrived in subway tunnels and burrows within empty lots and city parks.
“Rats are smart, they are resilient,” said Adams, a Democrat. “Many of us live in communities where rats think they run the city.”
Over the past year, residents have called in almost 3.2 million rat sightings to the city’s 311 service request line, just shy of the record number of complaints in 2021.
“Rats have proven to be one of the most formidable opponents that humans have faced. Here in New York City, we’re locked in a constant battle,” said Councilmember Erik Bottcher, whose district includes Times Square.
New York City’s approach is in contrast to some efforts by animal-rights advocates in Paris, where there could be more rats than its 2.2 million people, perhaps twice as many, according to some estimates. A strike by garbage workers left some streets teeming with rats.
The animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis has been trying to convince Parisians that “rats are not our enemies!”
Adams thinks otherwise.
As Brooklyn borough president, he once showed reporters a bucket filled with a toxic soup meant to drown rats.
“There were people that were yelling, you know, ’Oh you murderer. You murderer!’” the mayor said. “You know, we can’t be philosophical about things that impact the quality of life of New Yorkers.”
And he’s had trouble controlling them even outside the Brooklyn townhouse he owns — something he mentioned in jest Wednesday.
In February, the mayor challenged a pair of citations issued to him by his own health department for not doing enough to control rodents outside the townhouse. The administrative judge sided with the mayor on one citation but ordered him to pay $300 for the other.
In November, the mayor signed legislation intended to reduce the city’s rat problems, including new rules limiting how long garbage can sit out on curbs.
“The fewer rats the better,” said Nina Daugherty, a Harlem resident who came upon the news conference while jogging through a local park.
Corradi’s first task will be to launch a “rat mitigation zone” in Harlem, where the city will invest $3.5 million to roll out “an accelerated rat reduction plan” deploying 19 full-time and 14 seasonal employees to combat rats. Strategies that work in Harlem will be extended elsewhere.
Besides the “ick,” factor, rats can spread disease like leptospirosis. On rare occasions, the ailment can lead to meningitis and cause the kidneys and liver to fail.
Corradi said her job will be to combat rats by taking away their food sources — often garbage and food scraps.
“I have a long history with rats,” she said. As a 10-year-old, she gathered signatures for an anti-rat petition in her neighborhood. She also led efforts by New York City schools to control the vermin in school buildings.
It’s not the first time a New York mayor has appointed a rat czar. Rudy Giuliani anointed one of his deputy mayors to handle the job — although Corradi will be the city’s first director of rodent mitigation.
During his time in office, Giuliani established a task force, which spawned a boot camp called the “rodent academy” that still produces cadres of foot soldiers hoping to vanquish the city’s army of rats.
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio budgeted more than $30 million in his own failed bid to conquer rats. One plan relied on dry ice to suffocate rats in their burrows. It proved comedic at one demonstration for journalists when workers chased — but never caught — one of the fleeing vermin.
“Everyone tried,” Adams said, acknowledging the city’s noble efforts — and ultimate failures.
“We needed someone that was going to put all the pieces together and all the players together to coordinate this entire symphony of fighters. We needed a maestro.”


More from News 12
2:00
FDNY: 9 people injured in Bushwick building fire

FDNY: 9 people injured in Bushwick building fire

2:54
HEAT ALERT: Hazy, hotter and more humid today; tracking strong thunderstorms tonight in Brooklyn

HEAT ALERT: Hazy, hotter and more humid today; tracking strong thunderstorms tonight in Brooklyn

1:37
Why are subway platforms so hot?

Why are subway platforms so hot?

2:15
MTA taking steps to protect commuters in next round of extreme heat

MTA taking steps to protect commuters in next round of extreme heat

0:39
Police: 2 men wanted for stealing car-hauling trailer with vintage cars in Cypress Hills

Police: 2 men wanted for stealing car-hauling trailer with vintage cars in Cypress Hills

1:02
Investigators release photo of suspect linked to McDonald's triple shooting in Downtown Brooklyn

Investigators release photo of suspect linked to McDonald's triple shooting in Downtown Brooklyn

1:19
NYPD: 27-year-old man fatally shot in Clinton Hill; no arrests made

NYPD: 27-year-old man fatally shot in Clinton Hill; no arrests made

1:15
Newest NYPD class graduates, Mayor Eric Adams reflect on death of fellow recruit

Newest NYPD class graduates, Mayor Eric Adams reflect on death of fellow recruit

1:27
Mayor Adams, city agencies hold briefing amid extreme heat in Brooklyn

Mayor Adams, city agencies hold briefing amid extreme heat in Brooklyn

1:44
Police: Multiple people injured in triple shooting outside McDonald's in Brooklyn

Police: Multiple people injured in triple shooting outside McDonald's in Brooklyn

7:10
Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

2:12
DEP unveils new plan for preventing flooding on New York City streets

DEP unveils new plan for preventing flooding on New York City streets

0:43
MTA outlines plan to keep riders cool during intense heat and humidity

MTA outlines plan to keep riders cool during intense heat and humidity

3:30
Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

1:51
Bushwick man builds Myrtle and Broadway intersection into virtual reality

Bushwick man builds Myrtle and Broadway intersection into virtual reality

5:30
In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

In prime-time address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘it’s time to cool it down’

1:54
Reps. Lawler, Torres to introduce bill enhancing Secret Service protection for presidential candidates

Reps. Lawler, Torres to introduce bill enhancing Secret Service protection for presidential candidates

2:07
A look back at US political violence that changed history

A look back at US political violence that changed history

4:10
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Trump rally attendee gives his eyewitness account of the shooting

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Trump rally attendee gives his eyewitness account of the shooting

2:37
Security increased at Trump Tower following rally shooting

Security increased at Trump Tower following rally shooting