This month, we check in with Kathleen Corradi, the “Rat Czar” who serves as director of rodent mitigation for New York City. Corradi was appointed to the position in April by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to coordinate with his administration to fight against the city’s rats. She shares updates with Pest Management Professional about her plans and progress. This article has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full interview online.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the letters you used to write as a child to the city to fight against rats in your neighborhood?
I grew up with my house abutting train tracks, which has, as we know, a lot of harborage and other pest-conducive conditions. So, with the support of my mom and a neighbor, we [circulated] a petition around the block and got neighbors to sign up to urge the railroad company to take action, clear the harborage and treat behind our house.
2. What are your plans to bring science into rodent mitigation for New York City?
Leading with science, we have experts at all our agencies, specifically at our Department of Health with rodentologists on staff. They know these animals better than anyone. They’re thinking about how we can match interventions to different populations we see, how we cut off food sources and harborage conditions, and how we use extermination as a tool.
3. How are you leveraging plans to see success in controlling the city’s rat population?
This work cannot be just done by the city or our agencies. We need the public and private companies involved. We need everyone to take dedicated steps for cutting off food sources, better sanitation habits, sealing up cracks and exclusion techniques. We must use a truly integrated pest management approach.
Rats can find everything they need in our city, and we want to make it more difficult for them to thrive. We’re cutting off food through changing our sanitation rules, working with property managers to make sure their sidewalks are clean, and doing anything else we can to remove harborage. We’re thinking about how we’re reducing clutter and working with our different city-managed properties to make sure their areas are neat and clean and well managed.
4. What will New York City do with the RodeXit donation provided by Bug Off Pest Control Center during the 2023 New York Pest Expo? (Editor’s Note: For more on this donation, see our New York Pest Expo coverage.)
We’re really thinking about how we build a long-term, rat-free New York. All the products that work on exclusion and cutting off access is really where we want to go. The partnership, the collaboration and this donation all help us achieve that mission. We are partnering with people at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and have some ideas on how to put this in place.
5. When you took this job more than six months ago, you knew the rat population wasn’t going away but growing. Do you think we are starting to see a decrease in the population of rats in the city?
There are a number of metrics we look at for the city. [Phone hotline] 3-1-1 complaints are a big one, and we’ve seen increases in those historically after the past number of years. We did see a decrease in the spring compared to previous years, which we’re really excited about because it coincided with the changing of our waste set-out time. New Yorkers are noticing a change in how our city operates and seeing fewer rats.
Are we seeing success? Absolutely… [we are seeing] better coordination across our agency, more efficiency, and even events like the New York Pest Expo [are] bringing people into the conversation and making sure we have a shared message and mission. This is going to be essential to help us achieve our goals.