New York puts its rats on ice

NEW YORK: A snout and two little black eyes pop out from the hole, too late: A foot already covers them and the hole will be quickly filled with dry ice.
This new weapon in the hands of New York’s sanitation service spells certain death for the rat.
Rick Simeone’s team is at work in Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side, one of Manhattan’s oldest districts.
The day before, they spent more than three hours locating all the entrances to the burrows, 67 in all. That means there could be more than 250 “rattus norvegicus,” the scientific name for common brown rats, living there.
Burrow by burrow, the team drops into each hole several small pellets resembling ice cubes but which are actually dry ice, carbon dioxide in solid form.
The surrounding air temperature ensures that the carbon dioxide reverts to gaseous form and asphyxiates the rats, which are usually asleep at this time of the day.
Normally, 90 to 100 per cent of the rodents are exterminated.
“It’s a method that’s very effective in mostly green spaces, parks,” says Simeone, director of pest control for the New York City Health Department.
“You always hear that rats are winning the battle. But this turns it around.”
A 2014 study published by a PhD candidate at Columbia University estimated about two million rats in the US financial capital, which has a human population of more than 8.5 million.
In 2012, John Stellberger became the first to use dry ice against rats in the United States, based on an idea from one of his employees.
The head of EHS Pest Control company, Stellberger recalls that he spoke of the idea with sanitation officials in Boston, who conducted a brief trial in 2016.
That pilot was suspended after several months pending an approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which came in June 2017.
At the beginning of this year after several months of tests, New York officially adopted the dry ice technique, joining Boston, Chicago and Washington. — AFP