Recent years have brought a new surge of rat infestations in some major American cities. In 2016, USA Today reported increases in rat populations in New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, DC, with the biggest increase noted in Chicago, where the rat population is increasing on average by 70% a year. That same year, New York received more than 41,000 complaints of rodent activity. The effects can be vast, including higher rates of depression with residents in low-income areas where rats are more prevalent than other parts of cities.
With statistics like these in mind, cities are bolstering the resources they’re deploying against rat infestations:
Chicago is increasing the number of city-employed rodent technicians and experimenting with new ideas to help the Chicago Transit Authority reduce rats in public areas.
Boston has started a 311 line specifically for reporting rats. The city has also worked with MIT and Harvard to test an approach using dry ice that seems, at least from initial reports, to be working.
Cities are also cracking down on residents who contribute to the problem. Chicago fines homeowners up to $500 for leaving pet droppings or garbage in their yards, with other cities following suit. Some homeowners are unhappy about these efforts, but many are taking matters into their own hands rather than waiting on the city.