Rat invasion is an old problem in Pariswrites Alissa J Rubin
— and a new one — and it is hard to get a grip on.
In 2014, the city promised a 100 percent “de-ratization.”
In the 19th century, rats terrified and disgusted Parisians who knew that five centuries earlier, the creatures had brought the bubonic plague across the Mediterranean.The plague ravaged the city, as it did much of Europe, killing an estimated 100,000 Parisians, between a third and half the population at the time. It recurred periodically for four more centuries. Not surprisingly, the experience left Paris with a millennium-long aversion to rodents.Today, no one talks about a 100 percent rat-free Paris. But why is the problem worse now than in the past?“We don’t know exactly why,” Mr. Demodice said. “I think it might be because there is an overpopulation underground because the usual habitat for this animal are the sewers, underground, not above ground.”“Our work is to push them back down,” he said.But why are they proliferating? Could it be everybody’s favorite scapegoat — the European Union and its faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats?Yes, it could.New regulations from Brussels, the European Union’s headquarters, have forced countries to change how they use rat poison, said Dr. Jean-Michel Michaux, a veterinarian and head of the Urban Animals Scientific and Technical Institute in Paris.The old way of poisoning rodents involved a sort of deadly snack service in which park employees put lethal pellets directly into the burrows where the rats lived or sprinkled a poison powder along the underground byways used by the rats.
… Now the European Union requires that the poison be secured in small black plastic boxes, known as bait stations, and the rats have to actively seek it out. The United States has similar restrictions.In Paris, however, the rats can easily find a three-course meal much of the year within a stone’s throw of their burrows — at least around the Tour St. Jacques. And they appear to prefer a half-eaten baguette with butter and ham, a piece of apple and an unfinished container of pasta, prosciutto and peas.Three park workers tasked with checking the poison boxes scattered every 25 feet among the shrubbery at the Tour St. Jacques did not find even one breached by a rat last Friday.