City Councilor Ed Flynn thinks Boston should do more to win the war on rats

The Boston City Council president pointed to pest control efforts underway in New York City.

Two rats are shown emerging from underneath a dumpster. Both are grayish brown. The one on the left is smaller than the one on the right.
An adult and juvenile rat emerge from underneath a dumpster in the Fenway area in 2007. George Rizer/Globe Staff, File

Boston is looking to do more to keep its furriest foes in check, with city councilors voicing overwhelming support Wednesday for the creation of a new municipal department devoted to fighting the city’s rats.

“It’s an important quality of life issue. It has an impact on almost every neighborhood in the city,” said City Council President Ed Flynn, who called for a hearing on the matter.

Flynn noted that Boston’s pest control efforts are currently split across the Inspectional Services Department, Public Works, and the Water and Sewer Commission. Having a dedicated position and office to tackle the problem, he argued, would streamline Boston’s rodent-fighting efforts and allow opportunities for the city to explore more innovative methods.  

Rats about town:

His proposal was referred to the Committee on City Services and Innovation Technology.

Rats in Boston

Boston’s rat population has boomed during the pandemic, with construction and outdoor dining among the contributing factors, according to Flynn.


Rats are hardly a new issue for Boston, though. 

“Probably for as long as the City of Boston has been a city, we have dealt with pests,” City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo said.

Flynn said he hopes to visit New York City soon to speak with officials there and hear how their pest control efforts are coming along. New York recently tapped a director of rodent mitigation to take the lead in addressing the city’s rat problem.  

“I think people think it’s funny when you say a ‘rat czar,’ but these are the kinds of things that make a real change in people’s lives on a day-to-day basis,” Arroyo said.

Councilors Gabriela Coletta and Liz Breadon both noted that rats are among the top issues that their constituents complain about. 

An office of pest control “is really past due,” Breadon said. 

“Every year, we go in and we have the same conversation, but we really need to try and move the needle on this,” she said.

Echoing New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch’s famous words from last fall, Coletta quipped: “The rats are going to hate this.”


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