Rats Taking Over Central Park, NYC Neighborhoods in Wake of Coronavirus Lockdown

November 22, 2020 

"Rats are devious and they're smart," Gail Dubov, president of the West 83rd Street Block Association, said in an article in the UK Sun's U.S. edition:

Melanie Sloan, whose daughter is Scarlett Johansson, said she saw one man on a bench in The Ramble area of Central Park swatting at rats with a rake.

"Central Park is overrun with huge fat rats. I saw a man on a bench in the rambles swatting them unsuccessfully with a rake," Sloan posted on Facebook.

Locals told the New York Post that they think slacking street cleaning and trash pickup, as well as an increase of outdoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic, have led to the rodent problem.

The Post reported that so far this year, callers have filed 12,632 rat complaints to the city's 311 hotline. Residents submitted 9,042 in all of 2019.

The Post also reported sightings of "rats as big as bunnies" and on efforts to combat the rodents:

With the Upper West Side teeming with the hungry critters, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and the city Health Department sponsored the latest incarnation of "Rat Academy," two hours of rat prevention training livestreamed Tuesday to nearly four dozen supers, tenants and homeowners. The city began such training sessions about 10 years ago.

Not a day goes by that Amanda Levine doesn't see at least one rat. She sprays her Jeep Grand Cherokee with a cocktail of cinnamon and mint oils and water -- under the hood and on all four wheel bearings -- to ward off the critters. In her apartment complex, at 107th Street between Amsterdam and Broadway, her neighbors tell her they hear scratching behind the walls.

Levine ticks off four reasons why she thinks rats have invaded the UWS: outdoor dining, more homeless New Yorkers, shoddy street cleaning and the biggest -- trash not being picked up often enough, both from the cans on sidewalk corners and the stacks of bags hauled to the curb by building supers.

The city's Department of Sanitation is responsible for street cleaning and garbage collection.

"Only when residents, businesses, and the city work together can we address a problem that is as old and as persistent as the City of New York itself," spokesman Joshua Goodman told the Post.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter

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