An estimated two million rats dwell in New York City, and their human neighbors have lodged a record number of complaints about them to the city's 311 hotline.
"The rats are taking over," New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer told Reuters. "I'm a lifelong New Yorker and I've never seen it this bad... I see them on my way home, they're standing upright, they say, 'Good morning, Mr. Comptroller.'" Mayor Bill de Blasio's spokeswoman, Natalie Grybauskas, said that 24,375 complaints have been made about rats that are above ground — anyone reporting rat-related issues in the subway are sent to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
A rodent expert from the city Health Department told Reuters that the influx in complaints is partly due to a new 311 smartphone app, making it much easier to report rat troubles. Stringer doesn't buy that explanation. "As if no one knew this before the app — it's just not true," he said. "It's a lack of taking care of business by the city's health department." New York City is expanding a pilot program tasked with getting rid of (shudder) "rat reservoirs," going after them in the colonies they set up in sewers, parks, and subways. Carolyn Bragdon with the Health Department said they know from the pilot that "we have the ability to crash a rat population by 80 to 90 percent," and they also educate residents about how to prevent attracting rats in the future.