New York to try to control subway rats with birth control
New York City subway officials Monday announced a pilot program intended to curb the fertility of female rats.
The New York Times
NEW YORK — They have thwarted the poisons. They have evaded the traps.
On Monday, the rats of the New York City subway system received another shot across the bow from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — sterilization.
The authority detailed its plans Monday for a pilot program intended to curb the fertility of female rats, pledging to test a product — administered to rats orally — that accelerates natural egg loss and sterilizes the animals permanently.
“This technology, if successful, could complement our current strategies of poisoning and exclusion for rodent management,” said Thomas Lamb, the chief of innovation and technology for New York City Transit.
The authority’s partner in the endeavor, SenesTech, a company based in Flagstaff, Ariz., has conducted research in Laos, India and the Philippines, often in agricultural communities where rats pose a threat to rice farmers.
Sterilization products will be placed in bait boxes inside the authority’s trash rooms.
The authority said that the typical city rat, known as the Norway rat, reaches sexual maturity at eight to 12 weeks and can have as many as 12 pups a litter and as many as seven litters a year, “depending on refuse and track litter access.”
The rats’ typical life span is five to 12 months.
The company said the product posed no danger to humans.
One challenge, the authority said, was offering the rats a bait that they might prefer to the subway system’s daily treasures — half-eaten gyros and chicken fried rice, stale pizza and discarded churros.