Calls have begun for Sydney to follow New York’s lead and hire a ‘bloodthirsty’ top ratcatcher to combat a growing infestation, as the rodent population explodes on our city’s streets.
January 25, 2023
Sydney needs a “Rat Tsar” just like New York to combat a “serious infestation” of rodents spreading across our city, according to a fed-up city councillor.
Mums on Facebook have complained about the health hazard to children of the “rat situation” at Coogee Beach, while professional pest controllers are reporting increasing rat numbers at industrial sites across Sydney – including as many as 500 rats killed at one complex alone.
New York Mayor Eric Adams made international headlines a month ago when he advertised for a “bloodthirsty” new “Rat Tsar” to be paid $242,000 a year to hunt down the pests.
At least two million rats are believed to inhabit the Big Apple’s subways and streets and, while the Sydney City of Council says it doesn’t know how many call Sydney home, residents are reporting an “alarming” increase in sightings.
Independent Councillor Yvonne Weldon says continued problems with waste collection in Sydney is contributing to a “serious rat infestation” and is an “unacceptable risk to public health”.
She said she was shocked to be driving in Surry Hills recently and come across a brazen rat crossing the road in broad daylight “with no fear” despite the busy traffic.
“I could not believe it, it was just walking across the road – the fear isn’t there anymore because they are out of control,” Ms Weldon said.
“I am regularly approached by residents alarmed by the number of rats they see in Sydney.
“I am continually contacted by residents because they are experiencing delayed and missed garbage collections and it’s not being addressed.
“There is an unacceptable risk to public health created by this rat infestation.
“Without a doubt poor garbage collection services in City of Sydney has contributed to a serious rat infestation.”
She has raised the issue of following New York’s lead in appointing a “Rat Tsar” with the city council but accused Ms Moore of not listening and regarding the rubbish removal problem as an “operational matter for the council’s CEO”.
“I said it’s our core responsibility to address those concerns but she doesn’t think so,” she said.
At Coogee, locals have complained to council about the increase in numbers and “enormous size” of the rats around the grassy area near the beach, with a concerned mum warning on social media she had seen so many that “there need to be signs warning people playing with babies and toddlers on the grass to be careful with handwashing”.
Others have said they had never seen such large rats around the rocks and beach area and some spotted at night “could be 1kg”.
Randwick Council said it had received an increase in sighting reports from the community but did not hold data on the rat population.
MOA Contract Shooting’s Shaun Bankowski, who uses air rifles and thermal imaging to eradicate rats who have often developed resistance to poisons, says his company has noticed a jump in new clients due to rat numbers in the past six months.
“We’ve seen a big increase in numbers across most of Sydney – Botany, St Peters, Chatswood,” he said.
“But the big 400-500 rat nights have been out west, Wetherill Park and Kemps Creek areas.”
ABC Pest Control’s Warren Bailey, who was called in to eliminate rats in an underground shopping arcade at Pitt St on Tuesday, said the new Metro underground project was also disturbing the rodents.
He jokes he could put his hand up to be the next “Rat Tsar”, as he has seen so many of them around Sydney in recent years.
“There are so many underground tunnels in Sydney and all the construction work and Metro work is stirring them up,” he said.
“It happened before when they dug up the city. I remember when the Parramatta Light Rail was being built you would see rats everywhere in Church St.”
Sydney Council records show hot spots of the “highest rodent activity” (based on council complaints and capture records) are at Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, Surry Hills, Redfern and Ultimo.
A City of Sydney spokeswoman did not answer whether the city would consider hiring a special top ratcatcher, or whether garbage collection issues had increased the rat population but said rats were an issue in every global city.
“Unfortunately, rat activity can’t be completely eradicated and there will always be some areas that require further baiting,” she said.
She said their program of control was run by licensed pest controllers and was monitored by council staff through live data gathered after reports from the community.
“In 2022 we received 303 complaints relating to rat activity in the City of Sydney, which is down on the previous 12 months.”