You heard right, the Empire State is rolling out a new weapon in its war against rats: sterilization.

America's great debate over birth control has now extended to rodents. The extreme idea follows a recent survey that found New York had some of the most rat-infested cities in the country.

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New York was determined to be the second "rattiest" city in the country, just one place behind #1 Chicago. It seems the Big Apple is taking the problem seriously and is launching an all-new method to cull the infestation.

It's estimated that over 3 million rats live in New York City.

NYC Introduces Plan to Sterilize Rats

Photo by Svetozar Cenisev on Unsplash
Photo by Svetozar Cenisev on Unsplash

According to the New York Times, the NYC Council has accepted that the city is unable to kill all the rodents running rampant in Manhattan, so they are going with a more invasive approach: sterilization.

The council introduced legislation that allows for the city to disburse a rat contraceptive called ContraPest, which come in the form of salty pellets. These pellets are supposedly very tasty to rodents, as they are full of salt and fat. A recent study found rats preferred engorging themselves on the pellets than finding food in the trash.

When consumed by rats, these scientifically engineered pellets attack the ovarian function of female rats and disrupt sperm production in male rats, thus leading to infertility.

It is said a pound of these pellets costs $5, but money doesn't appear to be the challenge - it's distributing them.

To start, these pellets will be scattered throughout what the city deemed "rat mitigation zones" that span about 10 city blocks. Should the trial succeed, a stronger rollout effort will follow.

Phasing out Rat Poison?

Sick rat on a Boardwalk
Pierre Aden

The city's hope is the plan reduces the number of rodents, because trying to kill them, as the council says, has done more harm than good.

The city has enacted several rat population control methods over the years, including poison, drownings, dry ice, and more. Rat poison has been under increased scrutiny following the death of Flaco, the Eurasian eagle Owl that escaped the Central Park Zoo.

Flaco was unable to be captured and advocates celebrated the city agreeing to letting him live free in the Big Apple. Sadly, the own was found dead on February 23 and rat poison, as well as a pigeon virus, was found in his system.

Flaco's death sparked intense pushback from animal activists, who say the rat poison killed the owl and other bird of prey species that live in New York City.

So, now, these avian predators will nosh on sterilized rats instead, per the new plan from the city council. It seems animal rights activists are on board, too, because they say taking away a rat's right to choose is a much better option than trapping and killing them.

However, letting rats be is not on the table as these creatures can cause a lot of damage, as evidenced by the debacle happening in the City of Rome right now.

Read More: "Squirrel-Sized" Rats Invading Homes in Upstate New York

Rats at the Beaumont St Auckland waterfront take a
Getty Images

Rats are capable of spreading disease. Research has found they are capable of transmitting hantavirus, leptospirosis, Tularemia, and Salmonella.

Aside from being disease taxis, they can cause significant structural damage because their oversized front teeth can gnaw through just about any material, from electrical wires, gas lines, to water pipes.

It will be interesting to watch this rodent birth control initiative happen in real time. Should this plan succeed, it's likely other cities will follow suit.

If you think sterilizing rats is a great way to spend taxpayer dollars, let us know via the station app or leave a comment below.

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