New Yorkers are tired of the rat infestation plaguing their city streets, and are now preparing to deploy birth control as a new weapon in the war on rats.
According to NYDailyNews, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced plans to launch a pilot program in which female rats are sterilized after consuming a product called ContraPest.
“When you are up against one of nature’s most successful breeding machines (where two rats can give rise to 15,000 in a year), you can never get ahead by killing,” said Dr. Loretta Mayer, the CEO of SenesTech, which manufactures the compound.
“When selecting products, we look at the least toxic methods that will be effective in reducing the rat population,” a Health Department spokeswoman said in a statement.
ContraPest makes female rats unable to ovulate and is nontoxic to humans and other “nontargeted species.”
The MTA ran a successful six-month trial of the “fertility management bait” in subways in 2013 that totaled around $1 million. The program is now expected to expand this year to additional stations following “promising” results, an MTA official said.
In 2015, NYC Mayor de Blasio dedicated $2.9 million to increase the staff size of the rat pest control from nine people to 50. The staff is dedicated to their “rat reservoir program” that targets areas with a high concentrations of rats.
Just last year, NYC tried a different strategy to combat rats by dropping dry ice into rat burrows within city parks. The city has sought alternatives to traditional rat poison that can kill other wildlife.