SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THE GROWING UWS RAT PROBLEM (INCLUDING EATING THEM)


Photo by Heidi Stubner.

This hawk at 90th Street and Central Park West on Tuesday must have heard that the Upper West Side has a rat problem, and so she decided to do her part.

Yes, one way to get rid of rats is to eat them.

For those of us who don’t enjoy rat fricassee, there may be other solutions. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal says she’s been pushing the state Department of Environmental Conservation to expedite approvals for the city to use dry ice to kill rats.

“Dry ice is inserted into rat burrows, where it removes the oxygen from the environment, causing the rats to fall asleep and asphyxiate,” she explained.

The product, which was also tested in Chicago and Boston last year, is less expensive than traditional rat poison and does not cause the rats to suffer, she said.

“Recently, the City had to stop using dry ice because it was not registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as a rodenticide. Now that dry ice has been registered with the EPA, DEC is working to expedite its use in State and City parks.”

It’s not clear how soon that will happen. As of earlier this year, the Upper West Side had three “rat reservoirs” , which are spots that city exterminators give extra attention because they are known to have rats (see the map below showing where the are). But officials have concentrated most of its rat eradication efforts in other parts of the city where it says the problem is worse. Linda Rosenthal is pushing for more attention to the UWS, given the increasing rat infestations.

Below, check out a couple more videos of rats that we’ve received since we published our first story on this issue (several local TV stations have also begun to cover this issue since we published our story).


In this video shot by Dan G. at Diana Ross Playground in Central Park, you can hear a little girl saying “Daddy, do rats bite?”

This one’s also from Diana Ross playground:


A screenshot of a rat reservoir map from NBC published in March.

NEWS | 45 comments | permalink
    1. jezbel says:

      The little park just north of the 72nd Street subway is (is that Richard Tucker Park or Verde Park?) is FILLED with rats. Day and night if you take a minute to stare into the plants, it’s literally in motion all the time. Right next to the little bread stand and their outdoor cafe. Disgusting.

      • jes says:

        It did not make sense to install the food kiosk there.

        There were rats there already – encouraging people to eat, the extra garbage etc makes things worse.

      • Sherman says:

        Agreed. This stretch of greenery is scary. I used to see rats scurrying around there all the time.

        I no longer walk on that side of the street in order to avoid them.

        The city really needs to do something to control the rats by the 72nd street subway station.

    2. Joanna says:

      WHOA! 😲 That image is incredible! Good job, Heidi!

    3. jimbo says:

      Great Idea—take the fentanyl from the bust on CPW and put it in the rat holes.Two birds with one stone!!!

    4. Peter says:

      Here’s a workable solution. A community effort to kill rats with rat traps-like larger mouse traps, That protects wildlife and from experience working on farms-is safe and easy. We need a coordinated effort of volunteers to section off workable areas of heavy infestation. Meet at dusk…set the 50-100 traps with peanut butter baits-rope off the sections to keep safe-and in the morning gather up the dead rats. One can literally wipe out whole communities in an evening. Also once one diminishes a generation of rats….they don’t remain to infest particular areas. Now the toughest question…are there volunteers? Those who justifiably protest the use of poison, those parents protesting unclean parks, those dog owners who complain as well…are you going to help? If not hopefully it could become a city/park policy provided the funds are there. It is effective.

      • Eric says:

        Volunteer? This would fall in line with what my city and state tax covers I would think.

        This issue will always be around. I think this approach contains them though, which is great in my opinion.

      • Mark says:

        I would volunteer for that. It sounds effective and I think it would also be a good way to meet people in our community.

      • B.B. says:

        I’ve told ya; that idea has been around for over one hundred years; they are called rat catchers.

        Forget peanut butter, ropes, etc… All you need are some ferrets and a pack of Jack Russell and or Rat Terriers.

        In fact many members of the Mustelidae family (ferrets, minks, badgers, and weasels) all prey upon and consume rats.

        *Warning* These videos are not for the squeamish and or those with weak constitutions.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAsEFAaibsk

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BUDmdAHaNk

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3M0p5OM28w

        Advantage of using ferrets or whatever animal is they will do the dirt work of flushing rats out of their diggings.

        Next to fumigation rat catching described/shown above is one of the most successful ways to rid a structure and or area of rats.

    5. UWS Craig says:

      Another solution is to introduce genetically modified rats into the population that produce sterile offspring. Then rats will die off naturally within a few generations.
      Some may say this discriminates against rats, but that sort of politically correct nonsense of “eco diversity” and “animals have just as much claim to our city as humans do” is what caused this problem in the first place.

    6. 92nd Street says:

      In the 90’s Bryant Park hired a Falconer to have his Bird mark the Park as his territory to rid Bryant Park of a nasty Pigeon problem. All was going well, and it seemed like a new City Wide industry was in its infancy, when the Falcon picked off someone’s Chihuahua. That was an abrupt end to the NYC Falconer Trade.

    7. Quint says:

      Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch these rats for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad rats! Not like going down to the pet store and chasing gerbils and hamsters. These rats, swallow ya whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back the tourists, that’ll put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find them for three, but I’ll catch them, and kill’em, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the heads, the tails, the whole damn thing..

      • GG says:

        Come on!!! Nobody got the JAWS (1975) reference?

        The brilliant Robert Shaw?!? Spielberg?! Oh well, maybe it was a different generation. I still don’t like going to the beach.

        Anyway, I thought it was funny.

    8. UWSMinion says:

      Has anyone seen the “pet rat” guy on CPW, between 66 and 65 Street? He is there every morning, with his colorful rats on display for all! Reported him to 311…but we all know how useful that can be.

    9. Jason says:

      Nuke em.

    10. Jo says:

      If the Verde Park at 72nd St isn’t considered to have enough rats to make the list, I would hate to see how many rats are in the red zones!

    11. Josh says:

      What if we:

      Brought in cats to get the rats…dogs to get the cats…lions to get the dogs…a hole dentists to get the lions…protesters to get the dentists…and the GOP to suppress the protestors?

    12. jose valentine says:

      come to 96 street between columbus and amsterdam around 10pm-3am. By effys cafe if you want to report on rats. I had to run the other day because i seen 5 of those brolic mfers.

      • LucyF says:

        The culprit on that stretch of 96th is the building 106 west 96th. The garbage in the front is not properly contained and a giant rat nest has formed underneath the garbage area. I don’t understand why the management of the building does not do something – the situation is out of control. Nor do I understand why Effy’s would continue to have outdoor seating. But then, there is a lot about Effy’s that I don’t understand.

    13. Dan says:

      The report I saw today stated that during “warm months” rat poisons are not used since it can harm baby hawks if fed them by adult birds. We need them to grow up to be hunters!

    14. Birdfriend says:

      Too many hawks are made ill by earing rats who have ingested poison. Not a good solution. Need drugs that induce rat infertility. And a good rat catcher. Pay five dollars a head and see what happens.

      • stevieboy says:

        I was wondering when someone would suggest this. They tried a bounty system like that in India to deal with their snake problem and it worked….for awhile.

        But what eventually happens is that someone will figure out that if they start breeding them they can make a ton of money with no work. And that’s what happened in India. People started to breed the snakes and then kill them and get the bounty. Eventually there were MORE snakes.:) now they had actual monetary value.

        Could you imagine this with rats?? not a good idea. Well, it’s a good “idea” but the reality has a lot of unforeseen effects that are negative.

    15. O says:

      Make feeding wild
      pigeons illegal.

    16. B.B. says:

      There are red tailed hawks all over Tomkins Square Park and surrounding area; yet the place is still full of rats.

      http://tompkinstrees.org/category/fauna/

    17. YourNeighbor says:

      Noi due restaurant on 69th is a rat haven

    18. happy Ex-UWSer says:

      There are commercial, non-poisonous rat traps available from New Zealand, I saw them on a recent trip. They are mounted on a tree and lure the rat into a cone where an air charge sets off a steel rod that effectively crushes the rats skull. Instant, relatively painless death. The charges are good for multiple uses, one just needs to picks up the carcasses.
      They are VERY serious about eradicating rats in New Zealand since they are devastating the local bird population. It’s quite an interesting story about their biodiversity by the way.

    19. The transformation of West 69th Street / Broadway from a bucolic residential block into a hideous commercial one where 5 restaurants (and now 6 if you count Gina’s) has been a nightmare for the residents. Between West Side Diner (aka West Side Restaurant), Noi Due (and their new Noi Due Carne — by far the worst offender — see video link), and the new Barcibo Mediterranean (formerly Barcibo Enoteca) we are living in rat hell.
      We have tried to talk to the owners of these restaurants into having their food delivered differently, into having their garbage disposed of properly (in covered bins instead of black plastic bags that attract at least 2 dozen rats within 10 minutes — to no avail. The owners of these restaurants live in large houses far away from their dirty rodent infested restaurants and their pockets are lined with money. They don’t appear to care for the health hazards they have created for the residents, their restaurant patrons or our beloved neighborhood.
      The tenants of 143 West 69 Street and 2020 Broadway had a RAT RALLY about 2 years ago where we brought a large 20 ft rat and placed it in front of Noi Due. That changed things for about 2 seconds and then they just went back to their unsanitary ways. We’re planning another RAT RALLY and will post that information on our Cornfeld Tenants Association website — everyone who is fed up with the rats taking over the UWS is invited.
      VIDEO HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAoBsCcCtfk&feature=autoshare

      Cornfeld Tenants Association website here:

      http://cornfeldtenants.blogspot.com

      Kirby Sommers, President

      Cornfeld Tenants Association

      • Sean says:

        Bucolic? This spot is in Lincoln Square and 4 blocks north of Lincoln Center. It isn’t a country lane. But that aside we do have rats.

    20. Does anyone know how effective and lasting this method might be? Sounds very intriguing.

    21. Nicole says:

      We need to target the entire UWS. I can’t walk down a side street (70s, 80s and 90s) after dark for more than 5 minutes without a rat or a mouse crossing my path. I would add (in addition to traps, dry ice …) rat-proof garbage bags/sheds and a campaign to get people to stop tossing food remnants on the ground. That includes the playgrounds. Kids should sit down for a supervised snack, on a surface that can be cleared of crumbs, if they need a snack and dispose of any leftovers in a rat-proof bin. There’s no need to run around strewing cheerios everywhere.

    22. Marcia says:

      Does dry ice work for pigeons. They are destroying my terrace by pooping every night so there is a mess in the morning

      • Sammie@lynn says:

        I don’t know about dry ice being used for pigeons but my neighbors and I all have the fake owls (with rotating heads) and that keeps the pigeons away. Also reflective tape in some spaces, (sold at Lowes, Home Depot and Amazon).

    23. Christine says:

      The rat problem in the Margaret Mead Park by the AMNH was astounding last year. Rats jumping out of trash cans, dozens and dozens of them running out of the bushes to feast on all the food left after people leaving their Shake Shack meals.
      But just as astounding is how these new covered trash machines have solved the problem almost completely. Haven’t seen rat since last winter. They really work!

    24. Flaca says:

      STOP FEEDING THE PIDGEONS and SQUIRRELS.
      People don’t seem to get this so go out park staff and educate as you go by!

    25. DrMary says:

      These are all interesting ideas, but only 1 that mentioned the real problem – GARBAGE!!! I live at 71st and Amsterdam/Broadway. 1 street and 2 avenues intersecting makes for 6 corners. Only 1 of them has a trash can. It belongs to McDonald’s!!! We need to address the real problem, which is PEOPLE leaving their garbage everywhere! As somebody who grew up in the suburbs where trash is very strictly controlled by required, capped, rodent-in-penetrable plastic bins I am astounded on a daily basis that simple plastic bags all over the sidewalks are what NYC deems an appropriate way to dispose of trash! I also worked in Chicago where you would be hard pressed to find even a cigarette butt on the pavement after each overnight clean up. And can somebody please explain to me how REDUCING the number of trash receptacles is supposed improve this situation? Also, have you watched the SDNY in action? If a trash bag breaks (or is already open by rats or recyclables seekers) and spews smelly garbage everywhere, oh well! Not their problem anymore! They are only required to pick up intact bags! Let’s all please face the real problem – it’s US leaving attractive, yummy trash everywhere! There needs to be a huge city initiative in this direction rather than time and money spent on cleaning up the aftermath of a completely failing system. And yes, I am a fan of exclamation points. 🙂

      • Sammie@lynn says:

        It’s the same situation on 72nd and B’way. There is a trash can but there are also regular kitchen garbage bags being piled up on the corner. I walked around newsstand to avoid the garbage and ended up standing right in the middle of a group of homeless people camped out on the sidewalk. The entire neighborhood is an eyesore.

    26. Jenna Cooley says:

      Great shot, Heidi!

    27. Robin Rice says:

      Dry ice is a wonderful way to go. Poison unfortunately kills not only the rats but the hawks who eat the rats.

      • B.B. says:

        Dry ice is nothing more than a less toxic method of fumigating. That process only works where a structure or area can be sealed so gases reach a high enough concentration to do their work.

        Given the vast amount of ivy, grasses, flowers, shrubbery, and other ground cover in Central Park and elsewhere, there is only so much fumigating can do. There would still remain scores if not hundreds of other reservoirs of rats. These fresh “recruits” as it were would move into any territory cleared previously of rats unless measures are taken.

        While you can seal a building or structure against rats (hopefully), outdoors is another matter. Subway tunnels, sewers, catch basins and the vast network of god only knows what else is underground in Manhattan provides endless homes for rats.

        What works is what has been known for centuries; rubbish must be cleared away/sources of food eliminated. Long as NYC continues to allow rubbish to be placed in plastic bin liners on curbs, in buildings, parks, etc… rats will have food.

    28. Gina says:

      More fines and penalties have to be issued
      to building owners who don’t cover there
      garbage properly and restaurants have got
      to have there garbage Picket up around the
      time before they close, to avoid feeding these
      Rotens all hours of the day, in inconjuction with
      other methods mentioned above, this is a huge
      Problem that needs prioritie attention. With the Billons that come into this City, it’s a shame to avoid the parks fear of being attacked we worry about the two legged greatures now the four legged once, as well.

    29. B.B. says:

      Again, long as there is trash, there will be rats.

      http://evgrieve.com/2017/08/minty-fresh-vibes-in-tompkins-square.html

      There is a reason for the word “commensal” applying to rats and mice. Human activity provides conditions for these rodents to thrive.

    30. Nix says:

      How about planting mint in the parks? Deters rats and other rodents. Wormwood as well, but it’s harmful to dogs. There are a number of various plants, flowers and herbs that if planted throughout our parks could help with the rat problem.

    31. Ted says:

      Getting rid of rats does not always go as planned. This is a good example of the law of unintended consequences.

      http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/hanoi-rat-massacre-1902