Paris is seeing an exponential population explosion of rats. A local elected official has taken on the internet and the public to tackle the issue.
The worsening rat infestation affecting Paris´ 20 districts has opened a new chapter, as the mayor of the 17th arrondissement (district), Geoffroy Boulard, has launched a website specifically focused on the issue.
The website is very simple. When a citizen spots a rat within the administrative boundaries of the 17th Paris arrondissement, the person can report it on an interactive map that is fully open to the public. The user can indicate the exact geolocation of the rodent, whether it is dead or alive, and the context of the spotting.
The decision to launch this initiative, was motivated by a realisation by mayor Boulard: During an inspection visit "I was confronted by a kindergarten that had been surrounded by rats, dead and alive; only to be confronted by the inaction of the Paris public services (...) and the lack of responsibility by the stakeholders" the mayor told BFM TV.
Complementary to the website, the telephone line 01.44.69.17.86, was established to support the anti-rat campaign in the district.
The rat-monitoring tool may be new, but it is not the first policy for coping with the pests. Since 2017, the French capital has designed a plan footed on a 1.5 million € budget with four priorities:
Several sources indicate the rat population of Paris to be around the 3.7 million rodents. And by 2018, the fear is that the already high population will jolt its size, as the summer months see a spike in rat numbers.
With such projections, public health officials keep in mind that not only rats are an indicator of the general state of trash and human disposal logistics in the urban space, but they are ultimately a vehicle for diseases that can transmit to humans, such as leptospirosis. The Pasteur Institute has indicated that this disease affects some 600 people each year in France.
The city of Paris, with a population of more than 2.2 million people (not to mention the wider Paris Region with 12 million people), 3 million visitors a year and 3.7 argued rodents, is perhaps in a turning point to take measures that can prevent a public health problem that could truly hurt its sanitary infrastructure, inhabitants and finances.
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