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New York appoints first-ever rat 'czar'

New York Mayor Eric Adams, pictured unveiling a rat killing machine as Brooklyn borough president in 2019. ©AFP

New York (AFP) - New York appointed its first rat "czar" on Wednesday, tasked with cracking down on one of the more unappealing aspects of life in the Big Apple.

The appointment of Kathleen Corradi comes four months after the city posted a tongue-in-cheek advert seeking "somewhat bloodthirsty" candidates for the role.

Rats are regularly seen in America's largest metropolis, often spotted scurrying between subway tracks and sniffing around garbage bags on sidewalks.

Legend has it that there are as many rats as humans -- around nine million -- although that figure has been debunked as a myth by a local statistician.

Even English novelist Charles Dickens complained about the rodents when he visited New York in 1842.

One of the critters shot to internet stardom in 2015 when it was filmed walking down the stairs of a subway station with a full slice of pizza in its mouth.

"New York may be famous for the Pizza Rat, but rats, and the conditions that help them thrive will no longer be tolerated -- no more dirty curbs, unmanaged spaces, or brazen burrowing," Corradi said in a statement.

The former teacher and expert in waste management will be paid $155,000 a year, according to the New York Times.

Her official title is director of rodent mitigation, Mayor Eric Adams's office said in a statement.

City officials have spent millions of dollars trying to cull the rat population over the years, deploying everything from rodent birth control to vermin-proof trash cans.

During a stomach-turning presentation in 2019, Adams, then Brooklyn borough president, unveiled a machine that drowned the rats in a pool of alcohol-based liquid.

The government also runs a "Rat Academy," where local residents can learn rodent prevention methods.

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