Use Rat Birth Control as Humane Alternative to Dangerous Overpopulation

Target: Adrianne Todman, Secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development

Goal: Support contraceptive-focused efforts to control detrimental rat populations in cities.

A beloved eagle owl that had escaped from the Central Park Zoo met with a tragic fate. Following a year of freedom, Flaco was found dead: the victim of an apparent building strike. Yet upon further investigation, examiners attributed Flaco’s death to rat poison. The tragedy involving Flaco highlighted an ongoing problem with widespread ramifications in New York City: rat overpopulation.

An estimated three million rats populate this city alone. The booming population creates massive sanitation problems, and rats can be notorious carriers of diseases harmful to both humans and animals. Throughout the decades, cities have often tried to contain rat overpopulation with poison. This approach is not only inhumane to the rats, but it can create unintended consequences, as demonstrated with Flaco.

Another method that has gained traction in recent years is the deployment of rat contraceptives. In the past, using birth control on rats has proven mostly unsuccessful due to outdated and inefficient materials and transfer methods. But a new initiative in New York has brought renewed hope. Researchers have developed a pellet form of contraceptives that they believe will entice rats because of its easily digestible shape and its taste. The contraceptive, which would work on both male and female rats, would be placed in areas with known high rat populations. If it works, it would reduce rat populations in a humane way and help protect other living beings.

This proposal has gained the support of animal welfare groups and of city council members who believe it’s a promising solution for a long-festering problem plaguing cities nationwide. Sign the petition below to urge broader adoption of this important initiative.


Dear Secretary Todman,

Rats have been potentially linked to dangerous diseases for centuries. Yet despite every effort to contain their booming populations, they persist by the millions in America’s cities. And current efforts to curtail the rodent problem have raised concerns about animal welfare and about the potential unintended consequences of rat poison. Bans of other deadly devices such as glue traps are even currently being considered both at the local and the national level.

New York may soon invest in a pilot program for a rat contraceptive known as ContraPest that could change the narrative. The contraceptives would be deployed in more efficient and rat-friendly pellet form and in regions with high rat populations. If the initiative proves successful, the public health risk of rats would decrease alongside their populations, the animals themselves would not suffer inhumane deaths, and tragedies such as the accidental death of celebrity owl Flaco by rat poisoning could be avoided.

As a representative of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) aptly stated: “This is not a problem we can kill our way out of. It’s time to embrace these more common sense and humane methods.” Please follow this organization’s advice and, more importantly, follow the science. Evaluate this effort and similar initiatives. If they prove successful, give these transformative pilot programs the support and investment they need to take flight across the nation.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Shashank Kumawat


  1. This may be the humane manner we haver always sought to stop rat over population in cities and yet not kill other innocent animals. This is the answer to any prayer of no more poisons!

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