When you live in a big city, at one point or another, you eventually get used to the pretty harrowing reality that you’ll end up having to share your space with the resident rodents. Whether you’re in London, Paris, New York City or another major metropolis, spotting rats on the street is a regular occurrence, and discovering chewed up TV wires and WiFi cables is just another day in the concrete jungle. So, how could we address this issue? Will we be victims to rodent supremacy forever? Or could there be another way?
On 9 June 2023, Anne Souyris, Paris’ deputy mayor in charge of public health, shared a statement on Twitter which she had sent to the High Council of Public Health in the French capital. A concerned citizen and public official, Souyris—alongside Geoffroy Boulard, head of Paris’ 17th arrondissement and a member of the centre-right Republican party—has made it evidently clear that it’s crucial politicians take a stronger approach regarding the sheer volume of rats running amuck in the city of love.
Project Armageddon is an ongoing study financed by the French government. As explained by Souyris, the study was brought about in order to try and find out to what extent humans and rats can live together in a way that is “the most efficient and at the same time ensure that it’s not unbearable for Parisians.”
According to CNN, animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis (PAZ) has welcomed the city’s decision. In a statement, the group shared: “Rats are present in Paris, as in all major French cities, so the question of cohabitation necessarily arises. At PAZ, when we talk about ‘peaceful cohabitation’ with rats, we don’t mean living with them in our houses and apartments, but making sure that these animals don’t suffer and that we’re not disturbed. Again, a very reasonable objective!”
Paris is the eighth most rat-infested city in the western world, and during the recent widespread sanitation worker protests, the area became almost uninhabitable—with mounds of garbage piling up in the streets.
It’s unknown how much longer the study will take, and indeed what the results may show. But it’s safe to say that this kind of a rat problem won’t be fixed with a few dozen exterminators, it’s going to take something much more complex.