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Now hiring: New York City ‘rat czar’. Requirements: ‘Killer instinct’ and ‘bloodthirsty’ attitude

Mayor Eric Adams has been waging a war against the brown rat for years. He wants a ‘director of rodent mitigation’ to lead the fight

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 02 December 2022 19:26 GMT
‘Rats are not our friends – they are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government,’ according to the job listing
‘Rats are not our friends – they are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government,’ according to the job listing (AP)

If there is one defining arc throughout the political career of New York City mayor Eric Adams, it is his mission to kill as many rats as possible.

The city is now hiring for a newly created position of “director of rodent mitigation,” a so-called “rat czar” tasked with the eradication of an animal that city officials have spent decades trying, and failing, to destroy.

As Brooklyn borough president, Mr Adams waged his own war on rats, a scourge of the city since the 1700s, with historical attempts at citywide eradication ranging from open-season shooting in the 1800s to the proposed demolitions of burrow nests in the 1960s.

Centuries after the brown rat arrived in what would become New York City, an atypically irreverent job listing for the position in Mayor Adams’s administration asks whether potential candidates “have what it takes to do the impossible”.

Prospective job seekers must have “a virulent vehemence for vermin” as well as “a background in urban planning, project management, or government” and “most importantly, the drive, determination and killer instinct needed to fight the real enemy”.

Based in City Hall, the position reports to the deputy mayor of operations Meera Joshi and will be paid a salary between $120,000-$170,000, according to the job post, which was first reported by Gothamist.

“Despite their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends – they are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government,” according to the job listing.

“Rodents spread disease, damage homes and wiring, and” – in a nod to Pixar’s Ratatouille – “even attempt to control the movements of kitchen staffers in an effort to take over human jobs,” the notice reads.

Candidates must be proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, have a bachelor’s degree with five to eight years of experience in a similar position, and possess a “swashbuckling attitude, crafty humour, and general aura of badassery”.

As Brooklyn borough president, Eric Adams launched a pilot programme to curb rat populations (AFP/Getty)

An ideal candidate should also be “somewhat bloodthirsty” and “determined to look at all solutions from various angles, including improving operational efficiency, data collection, technology innovation, trash management, and wholesale slaughter”.

In 2019, the then Brooklyn borough president Adams demonstrated an extermination plan that involved a morbid display of bloated rat carcasses. He has also connected the proliferation of rats with a lack of safe and affordable housing and the consequences of gentrification and overdevelopment, as well as the stubborn issue of waste management in a city that leaves mounds of bagged refuse on sidewalks.

Within the first year of his administration, the mayor made at least six announcements that were connected to rat removal.

The city already maintains an Office of Pest Control within the health department, and there is a citywide rodent task force, but there is no position to coordinate them, according to Ms Joshi.

Enlisting a rat czar also comes as city officials navigate a series of new sanitation measures, including a proposal to change trash pick-up schedules, largely to avoid rat mealtimes. The city’s Department of Sanitation also has released a $48 T-shirt to promote a rat mitigation campaign, reading: “The rats don’t run this city. We do.”

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