The search for New York City’s first-ever “rat czar” has come to an end.
Kathleen Corradi has been hired as the city’s director of rodent mitigation, Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday.
Corradi will coordinate city agencies such as the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Parks and Recreation, and Sanitation and find “innovative ways to cut off rats’ food sources” and use “new technologies to detect and exterminate rat populations,” Adams’ office said in a news release Wednesday. She will earn a salary of $155,000 a year, he said at a news conference with reporters.
The city also announced the creation of a “Harlem Rat Exclusion Zone” that covers much of the northern half of Manhattan, where $3.5 million will be spent to improve and increase inspections, use equipment such as bait and traps, and harden floors at some public housing to prevent rat burrowing.
“Rat mitigation is more than a quality-of-life issue for New Yorkers,” Corradi, who previously served as the Queens director of space planning for the city’s Department of Education, said in the announcement. “Rats are a symptom of systemic issues, including sanitation, health, housing, and economic justice. As the first director of rodent mitigation, I’m excited to bring a science- and systems-based approach to fight rats. New York may be famous for the Pizza Rat, but rats, and the conditions that help them thrive will no longer be tolerated – no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing.”
As Adams put it: “The rats are going to hate Kathy, but we’re excited to have her leading this important effort.”
The city had unique criteria in mind during the candidate search, looking for someone who is “highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty,” with both “stamina and stagecraft.” Not to mention a “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor, and general aura of badassery.”
Rodents pose a serious public health challenge for the city: They can contaminate food and spread diseases like leptospirosis, according to the NYC Department of Health website.
It’s unclear exactly how many rats call New York City home. An oft-repeated urban legend tells us that the city has more rats than people (or over 8 million). But a 2014 study led by statistician Jonathan Auerbach and based on rat sightings reported to the NYC hotline estimated that there were only around 2 million rats in the city.