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Birth control for rats? New York City Council considering "Flaco's Laws"

Birth control for rats? "Flaco's Laws" considered in NYC
Birth control for rats? "Flaco's Laws" considered in NYC 02:29

NEW YORK - Is birth control the best way to tackle the city's growing rat population? That's what New York City Council members are considering. 

A set of bills were introduced Thursday that, if passed, may get better control of the rat population while also helping out other wild animals. 

You can call it retribution: Bird advocates want to see a change. The catalyst is Flaco, the owl that became a New York City icon

"While this has been happening for decades, it has taken the death of our beloved Flaco to call attention to these issues," Kathy Nizzari of the Lights Out Coalition said. 

Jesse Zanger

After escaping from the Central Park Zoo, Flaco flew free for more than a year. In February, the 13-year-old bird died after he flew into a building. Test results showed he was full of rat poison

"We can not poison our way out of this," New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu said. 

Abreu has introduced the first bill of three, which together are known as "Flaco's Laws." If passed, his approach would use rat contraception instead of poison to get control of the city's problematic rat population. 

"Two rats in a given year can reproduce 15,000 decedents," Abreu said. 

The other legislation is aimed at reducing fatal bird collisions with buildings by installing new lighting and windows that have markers. 

"We can continue to build big beautiful buildings. We just need to take birds into account," Catherine Quayle of the Wild Bird Fund said. 

Quayle said the Wild Bird Fund is like New York City's emergency room for birds. 

"During migration, we might get 100 window collision victims in a day," Quayle said. 

Supporters of these bills said they aim to make New York City the largest bird-friendly city in the world. They say what's good for birds is good for people. 

"Birds sequester carbon. They pollenate native plants, control pest population. Our ecosystem would fall apart without birds," NYC Audubon Jessica Wilson said. 

All three bills are still in committee. 

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