New York has appointed a ‘rat czar’ to lead the city’s unending fight against its perennial scourge: the millions of common brown rats that have been the bane of every recent administration.
Mayor Eric Adams advertised in December 2022 for a “somewhat bloodthirsty” individual who possessed a “killer instinct” and was not opposed to “wholesale slaughter” to help battle rats across the city’s streets, subway tunnels and other nooks and crannies.
The official job title is director of rodent mitigation, and the role pays $120,000 to $170,000 (£97,700 to £138,430).
On Wednesday, Mr Adams unveiled his hire, Kathleen Corradi, a former elementary school teacher who first showed her anti-rodent instincts as a 10-year-old when she gathered signatures for an anti-rat petition in her neighbourhood.
“When I first saw this job posting, I wasn’t sure if it was real,” Ms Corradi said. “‘Bloodthirsty’ is not a word you usually see in a job description and it’s certainly not a word I usually [use to] describe myself.”
“You’ll be seeing a lot of me and a lot less rats,” she told a press conference in a Harlem park.
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She added: “Rat mitigation is more than a quality-of-life issue for New Yorkers. Rats are a symptom of systemic issues, including sanitation, health, housing, and economic justice.
“New York may be famous for the Pizza Rat, but rats, and the conditions that help them thrive, will no longer be tolerated – no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing.”
Rats are a top concern for New Yorkers alongside crime, homelessness and exorbitant rents. Previous measures such as widespread traps and the use of poisonous bait have failed to successfully eradicate the problem.
“Rats are smart, they are resilient,” said Mr Adams, a Democrat. “Many of us live in communities where rats think they run the city.”
There have been almost 3.2 million rat sightings reported to the city’s 311 service request line, just short of the highest number recorded in 2021.
“[The mayor] hates rats. I hate rats. Every New Yorker hates rats,” Ms Corradi said. “Rats are tough but New Yorkers are tougher.”