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City To Launch Pilot Program To Combat Rats On Upper West Side

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The city has announced plans to test out its newest weapon in the war on rats.

As WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported Tuesday, the Upper West Side's tree-lined streets are very hospitable to the long-tailed vermin.

"The rat problem is constant," building owner Joe Lasanti told Diamond.

He said he's in a constant battle with rats outside of his West 83rd Street building.

City To Launch Pilot Program To Combat Rats On Upper West Side

"They dig holes in the garden out front and I constantly fill them. I put traps out. Last week, I killed three of them," Lasanti told Diamond. "I stuff the holes with topsoil and they just build another one right next to it or later on. I poured different kinds of chemicals down there, which keeps them away for a short time and then they're back."

Starting in September, the West 80s and 90s will be a testing ground for the Department of Health, which plans to put a pebble-like material called Stalite in 30 tree pits.

"When packed in tightly enough, they cannot burrow through this material easily," research scientist Caroline Bragdon with the DOH told Diamond. "Still a permeable surface so the tree can get the nutrients it needs, but it's not easy for the rat to burrow through."

Stalite is not a pesticide and not composed of chemicals.

Bragdon said it's just one weapon in the city's never-ending war on rats.

However, not everyone's convinced it will work.

"They can spend their money on it, or our money on it, but it's not going to work," Lasanti told Diamond. "They'll [the rats will] find a way."

If the pilot program is successful, it would be expanded city-wide, Diamond reported.

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