In Depth: Trying to rid the Bronx of rats

It's estimated that for every person in the Bronx there are half a dozen rats.

Over the past year, complaints by residents about rodents have gone up. Especially hard hit are neighborhoods such as Melrose, Highbridge and areas around Concourse Village.

As part of the Rat Abatement Program, which the mayor announced last month, the city distributes garbage cans with tight lids to prevent rats from getting into the garbage. James Gibson, of Pest Control Services, says the key is to eliminate food sources. The garbage cans have already been distributed in other areas in the city. Bronx residents can expect to see the cans in the next few months.

Some believe more needs to be done to solve the rat problem. Councilman Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) says with recent budget cuts trash collection is less frequent. Serrano also says empty lots and construction projects are not helping the rat problem. The councilman is now sponsoring a bill to try and curb the rat problem at the source. Under Serrano's proposal, those applying for construction permits will have to do rat abatement before they are issued a permit.

Until legislation is passed or the city's rat initiative takes off, the city health department is urging residents to do their part by sweeping up crumbs and keeping food in airtight containers.

Residents are urged to call 311 if they have a rodent problem.

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