Brooklyn’s rat killer fights on

for The Brooklyn Paper
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How bad are the rats in Brooklyn Heights? Some residents are hitting the streets, and taking matters into their own hands.

One man — call him The Rat Hunter — is even resorting to violence!

“I’ve used an air gun with pellets to hit them,” said The Rat Hunter, who refused to be named for fear of legal repercussions (it is illegal to torture animals, even ones that not even a mother could love). “There are so many of them, it’s like urban hunting.”

The Rat Hunter also confessed to flushing out a rat burrow with a water hose. Might not sound too inhumane, except when the rats emerged in search of dry ground.

“I was hacking them to pieces with a machete in a public garden,” he said with a smirk. “But we never had a rat problem again.”

Many long-standing locals attribute the rodent population surge to the $2.5-million Promenade renovation in 2001.

The construction “disturbed the nests and drove them towards the buildings,” said Charlie Anderson, a Brooklyn Heights doorman of 14 years. “It was then that I began to notice them. It took about 18 months for our building alone to get them under control with snap traps and bait boxes.”

While buildings successfully waged individual wars against infestation, the rats moved to more fruitful terrain — public parks and garbage cans.

“Suddenly the rats realized that the only garbage bags still sitting on the ground are those in the city trashcans,” said Quintana. “The residents may have wised up, but it doesn’t mean much if the city doesn’t follow.’

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been spreading poison. Several trees on Columbia Heights, as well as in Cadman Plaza Park, are now marked with signs stating that poison is in the area and recommending that dogs (and children) be kept away.

The vague markers on the north end of Columbia Heights in the fruit streets sitting area are taped to four of six trees. There is no explanation of whether the poison was applied to only those trees, or if the signs are meant to indicate there’s poison in the entire neighborhood.

It’s impossible to decipher the answer just from looking. And considering the DOH didn’t return my calls, it seems I’m not going to find the answer there either.

“Those signs are just the city’s way of covering its a– if your dog eats rat poison,” said Jeanine Croix, who was visiting the Hillside Dog Park across the street from the signs. “It’s totally haphazard.”

Whether or not the city has a plan beyond throwing down some poison and up some signs, for now these plague purveyors have some serious verve.

“The rats are getting more brave every year,” said Javier Quintana, a nine-year resident. “I’ve seen some the size of small dogs cruising down the Promenade. But now they’re emerging before dusk. When they’re hungry, they’re hungry.”

The Brooklyn Heights rats are currently living large. While the city should install bigger, more enclosed trash cans, residents and visitors alike need to do all they can to deny these midnight marauders of a food source.

Until then, “the rats are still dancing in the street,” said Anderson. “Every night I see them checking out garbage.”

In 2001, “No one wanted to talk about it,” he said. “We didn’t know everyone had the same problem.”

This time around, no one is keeping quiet.

“We’re seeing domesticated dogs going after them in broad daylight,” said Sasha Freeman, who frequently takes her Labrador retriever to Cadman Plaza Park.

“At that point, someone’s gotta acknowledge that we have a problem.”

Here’s the problem as far as I’m concerned: There’s only one Rat Hunter in the neighborhood!

Juliana Bunim is a writer who lives in Brooklyn Heights.

The Kitchen Sink

Things are about to get safer at Brooklyn’s only YWCA, on Third Avenue at State Street. The YWCA will install a much-needed sprinkler system with $50,000 in state funding obtained by Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Cobble Hill). …

Ever feel like the MTA is bullying subway riders around with fare hikes and service disruptions? Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Carroll Gardens) is trying to reign in the runaway agency with a straphangers’ Bill of Rights that includes the rights to regular service, clean stations and comprehendible public announcements. …

Ikea has cut some of the piers off from the mainland at its Red Hook site, but they are not being destroyed. Instead, the archipelago of piers will stay out to sea as places to store barges. …

A hearty Sink welcome to new Brooklyn Heights resident — and former Bill Clinton speechwriter — Mark Katz. …

Ran into state Sen. Marty Connor (D–Brooklyn Heights) at David Walentas’s Christmas party at St. Ann’s Warehouse. Man, that senator loves his Brussels sprouts. See? We always said he was a great example for the kids. …

We hear that our Duffield Street pal Joy Chatel, who just got the city to back off from condeming her home, sold her lucrative air rights. That’s good news for those who want Chatel’s house to be turned into a museum to the Underground Railroad because it takes away an incentive to tear down the house.

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Reader Feedback

nivak from downtown brooklyn says:
is any two legged non union rats working on duffield street?
How many are undocumented?
How many live in the neighborhood?
how is this hotel bring in job for brooklynites?
Jan. 14, 2008, 1:52 am
Dan from some other says:
The odd thing is that there's not a Taco Bell in sight.

Then again, harking back to the corner of Ventura and Reseda ...
Jan. 14, 2008, 3:38 am
Joy Chatel from Brooklyn says:
I heard the air rights were sold. Can you please tell me
who I sold them to and how much did I get for it. My bank
account definitely doesn’t reflect any type of sail.
I would love to sell the air right. Do you have any takers?
Joy Chatel
Jan. 14, 2008, 11:48 am
Dan from some other says:
The air rights were sold to flying rats, which ought not to be confused with flying figs or any other flying f-objects.
Jan. 16, 2008, 7:50 pm

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