Feb 16, 2024 - News

Finding Boston's rodent terminator: Why the city may hire a "rat czar"

Animated illustration of a rat walking across a desk with a nameplate that says RAT CZAR.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The City of Boston is looking to add a new weapon in its eternal battle against rats: busting bureaucracy.

What's happening: South Boston City Councilor Ed Flynn is pushing for a dedicated pest control office and appointed "rat czar" to streamline the city's efforts to neutralize the rodent population.

  • Flynn's proposed ordinance would create an Office of Pest Control to prioritize and coordinate the city's rodent response, which is currently handled by several different departments.

Why it matters: Aside from being a general nuisance, rats pose a significant public health problem — and Boston is still considered one the "rattiest cities" in America.

Zoom out: Famously rat-hating New York City Mayor Eric Adams appointed that city's first "director of rodent migration" last year.

What to look for in a rat czar: New York sought applicants who were "bloodthirsty" and dedicated to "wholesale slaughter" of rats, according to the job listing.

What they're saying: "I've talked to most of my colleagues and they understand how critical this issue is throughout all the neighborhoods of Boston. They also understand this is a public health, public safety and quality of life issue," Flynn told Axios.

  • Flynn said he's talked to Mayor Michelle Wu about the idea and she's supportive.

Details: Boston's "rat czar" would have the authority to develop strategies for baiting, trapping and killing rats, while also promoting public education and upgrading sanitation.

  • Bloodthirstiness isn't a job requirement yet, but there's still time to write up a sensational want-ad.

What's next: The City Council will debate Flynn's plan in the government operations committee and hear from Wu's team about how such a department would work and how much it would cost.

  • If the council and Wu approve the plan, Boston's top rat terminator could be recruited soon after.
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