Why New York's rat problem will likely persist

New York City's rampant rat population is an unpleasant part of life in the city. They thrive here because of just how much garbage there is to eat.

"This animal that occupies nearly every infrastructure, every type of building, every type of space within a city," Urban rodentologist Dr. Robert Corrigan says.

In 2017, Mayor de Blasio came up with a plan to improve garbage collection practices and hopefully can the rodent problem.

The plan worked to some extent. NYCHA was able to reduce rat populations in certain areas by 60 percent using new technology but the rats continue to thrive in most areas of the city.

According to 311 data, sightings are up overall by almost 38 percent despite the health department's work, including installing rat-proof trash cans in some areas.  The bins compact trash so they hold more garbage between pick-ups and deny rats access to a food source.

Caroline Bragdon, the Director of Neighborhood Interventions for the City Health Department says, "Rats feed between dusk and dawn, so it's really important that the time that parks are starting to wind down and close, that they really be clean."

But keeping the streets and parks clean can help somewhat, there is an underlying problem.

"Sewers," Dr. Corrigan says.  "Sewers are the issue."

Rats love going down into the earth, according to Corrigan.  And he says the conditions are conducive to supporting the rat population.

Adding to the problem is the difficulty in getting into the sewer system.

Until a sewer component of the rat plan is implemented, Corrigan says, the rat problems are here to stay.