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The city is spending $32 million to get rid of rats

Written by
Helen Dugan

Remember at the end of Ratatouille, when the health inspector opens the door to find hundreds of rats running a restaurant kitchen? New York sometimes reminds us of that restaurant. Hot summer nights on Garbage Island seem to be a prime time for swarms of vermin to cruise the streets in search of food. 

Luckily, the city is coming up with a way to freeze out the rat population—literally. On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed a $32 million plan to send city rats back to the ice age by suffocating them with dry ice. This process has apparently been used in Manhattan before but was stalled because the E.P.A. would not authorize dry ice as a pesticide.

The $32 million price tag is no small amount, considering the fact that the targeted goal is to reduce the rat population by 70 percent and there's no real evidence that the scrappy little guys won't quickly repopulate. 

In addition to eliminating the pests, the new scheme focuses on the garbage issueThe proposition offers up sensible ways to reduce trash on the street, such as providing solar-powered, trash-compacting rat-proof bins and passing a regulation requiring buildings to put out trash for collection in the morning (rather than the night before). With the trash bins collectively costing only $2.3 million, how exactly the remaining $29,648,000 could be spent feels a bit sketchy. Dare we say we smell a rat? 

It is also unclear what plans are in store for the corpses of these suffocated or starved rats, although I can say that my cairn terrier, Maggie, will do her best to help clean them up. Milk snakes and rat snakes have also been suggested by commenters, which could lead to a nightmare resurrection of the wild snake population of yore. Then again, if that species gets out of hand, we could always instate our own Whacking Day. 

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