‘Rat academy’ teaches residents to fight rodent problem in their neighborhoods
The New York City Department of Health is training community members to help combat the rodent problem.
On Wednesday, the department hosted a “rat academy” workshop in Mott Haven along with the Parks Department.
The goal is to teach community volunteers who oversee Parks Department neighborhood gardens on how to keep rats out.
"It's challenging. I mean, think of it like housekeeping. It's not something you can ever do just once," said Caroline Bragdon, the Health Department's director of Neighborhood Interventions for Pest Control.
Bragdon said one has to remove the thing that attracts the rats: garbage. Leaving a rat without garbage to feed from in a community garden makes it harder for them to survive.
“By reducing rats in gardens, we're reducing rats in neighborhoods and making neighborhoods healthier,” Bragdon said.
In July 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the Neighborhood Rat Reduction Initiative. It’s a $32 million, multi-agency plan to reduce the city's rat population by 70% in the most infested areas, including the Grand Concourse, by minimizing food sources and habitats.
Leptospirosis, a rat-borne infection, may be uncommon but it's also been deadly in the Bronx in recent years.
“Whether or not there is a threat to public health we want to reduce rats to improve quality of life,” Bragdon said.