By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – New York City’s unending war on rats has a new commanding general.

Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday announced that Kathleen Corradi, an education department employee, has been appointed New York’s first-ever “rat czar,” part of Adams’ effort to combat a growing rodent population in the county’s most populous city.

“You’ll be seeing a lot of me – and a lot less rats,” Corradi, whose official title is “citywide director of rodent mitigation,” said at a news conference. “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Adams, who has often expressed a deep hatred for rats, posted the job last year, seeking someone “somewhat bloodthirsty” with a “general aura of badassery” and offering an annual salary between $120,000 and $170,000.

Corradi, a former teacher, is not new to the fight against rats. She previously oversaw rat mitigation efforts in the city’s public schools.

Rat sightings have jumped in recent years, according to city data. Some officials have said the proliferation of sidewalk dining – a concession to the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down the city’s restaurants – contributed to the problem.

The size of the city’s rat population is unknown. A 2014 study put the figure at around 2 million, or one for every four residents.

Adams has implemented other measures aimed at what he called New York’s “No. 1 enemy.”

In recent months, his administration has limited the number of hours that trash bags can sit on sidewalks awaiting pickup and launched a curbside composting program intended to reduce food waste.

But the brown rat, which likely arrived in New York sometime during the Revolutionary War era, has proven a crafty adversary, thriving despite numerous attempts to eradicate it from the city’s warrens of subway tunnels and alleyways.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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