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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 070-08
Thursday, October 30, 2008

CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Sara Markt, PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


Health Department Launches Rat Information Portal

New Site Puts Anti-Rat Tools at New Yorkers’ Fingertips

October 30, 2008 – In a continuing effort to reduce the number of rats in New York City, the Health Department today announced the launch of the Rat Information Portal – a one-stop resource website for New Yorkers’ rat prevention needs.  The new site, available at www.nyc.gov/rats provides easy access to information on how to control rats on properties and in communities. The portal was developed with the help of the city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and with support from the New York City Council and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Public Health Tracking Program.

“Rats are an unfortunate and inevitable part of city life, but we all share responsibility for tackling the problem,” said Dan Kass, Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Surveillance and Policy. “The portal helps all of us – tenants, landlords, community leaders, business owners and pest control professionals – learn how to reduce the rat problem.”

The site includes anti-rat tools for residents, building owners, pest management companies, and community leaders.  On the site, New Yorkers can learn how to:

  • Eradicate rats on your property using a simple, five-step guide: Look for evidence, clean up, starve them, shut them out and wipe them out.
  • Recognize signs of rats and how to remedy the problem from detailed photos and drawings
  • Search and make maps of rat inspection findings on properties and in neighborhoods and boroughs
  • Choose a good pest management company
  • Organize your community to fight rats
  • Respond to a warning notice issued by the Health Department

“It takes all of us working together to get rid of rats, and now New Yorkers have the resources they need to take action,” said Dr. Bobby Corrigan, the Health Department’s renowned urban rat expert. “Expert advice on rat prevention and management in your building and on your block are now just a click away.” Dr. Corrigan will host a myth busting forum on rats in New York City starting today at www.nyc.gov/health

The Rat Information Portal seeks to educate New Yorkers about what really contributes to a rat problem, what works in getting rid of rats – and put to bed urban legends about rodent control. Rats seek out places to live that provide them with everything they need to survive: food, water, shelter and safe ways for them to get around. To keep rats out, the new site advises building owners to take the following steps:

  • Clean up: Garbage and clutter give rats a place to hide.
  • Store all garbage in hard plastic rat-resistant containers with lids. Rats eat your garbage.
  • Provide enough trash containers for all of the occupants of your building. Exposed trash attracts rats.
  • Keep landscaped areas around your property free of tall weeds and trim shrubs that are close to the ground. 
  • Check for cracks or holes in the foundation of your building, sidewalk, and under doors and repair them by filling and sealing them.

Some of the main rodent myths the site busts include:

Myth: “Rat cities” are in our sewers and subway system.
Fact: Only small pockets live in NYC sewers and subways. Most rats live in burrows at ground or basement level.

Myth: City rats are “immune” to poison.
Fact: Today’s rodenticides work fine – but only if rats eat them. When garbage is easily accessible, rats don’t take the bait.

Myth: Cats, dogs, hawks and other animals help control city rats.
Fact: They may kill an occasional rat, but they can’t keep up with rats’ rapid breeding rates. Only people can make a difference!

Rodent control in New York City

The Health Department works with property owners and other city agencies to reduce rodents in the five boroughs. Some of the anti-rat programs include:

  • Property level rodent control: The Health Department responds to complaints about rodent issues, inspects properties, orders clean-up, and issues violations to property owners. When necessary, baiting is used to control rats. New Yorkers can call 311 to lodge a complaint.
  • Rodent Indexing:  Through this pilot program in the Bronx, inspectors walk block-by-block logging signs of rodents in handheld computers, issuing violations, and educating property owners – rather than waiting for a complaint. The Health Department is using the computer data to establish a baseline level of rat activity and track the progress of this intensive, proactive program. If successful, the pilot may be expanded to other boroughs. More than 48,000 properties have been inspected since the program launched in December 2007.
  • Citywide Rodent Taskforce: More than a dozen key city agencies meet every week to address rodent issues in the community.
  • The Rodent Control Academy: The Health Department trains both city rodent inspectors and private pest management professionals in best practices in rodent control. More than a thousand workers have been trained since the program began in 2005.
A note about the mapping tool

Because rodent inspections are done on a complaint basis in every borough but the Bronx, many properties have not been inspected and will not show results.  The site will show many more inspections and violations in the Bronx, where the Health Department has been conducting the intensive “rodent indexing” inspection program. These results do not reflect a more significant rodent problem, just an increase in inspections.

The Health Department designed the mapping tool to encourage communities and pest control professionals to create maps and work together to reduce rat problems and the Department will be offering map trainings to community boards and other groups. A “help” guide is also available on the site, offering tutorial assistance on key functions of the mapping tool.

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