In the dim light of a November dusk, Ann Claps, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, saw something from the corner of her eye.
”In the dark, I thought it might have been squirrels,” said Ms. Claps, the vice president of the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association. ”But then something made me take a closer look, and I saw a long, skinny tail.” It was a rat.
Alvin D. Doyle, president of the tenants association, said that on East 20th Street about a month ago, he, too, saw rats.
Louise Murray, who also lives in Stuyvesant Town, said she had seen rats during many of her walks near the oval, a grassy area in the middle of the complex. ”One night about two weeks ago, I saw three or four of them scurrying in and out of the ivy,” she said.
Despite such sightings, there have been relatively few complaints from the development’s 25,000 residents. Stephen Kaufman, a spokesman for Assemblyman Steven Sanders, said the assemblyman’s office had received about 10 complaints in the last few months. John Calagna, a spokesman for Met Life, the insurance company that owns and manages the apartment complex, said the company had received about a dozen complaints since the summer. The rat situation was being taken seriously, he said.
”Any time a disturbance in the natural habitat of rodents occurs, there is the potential for them to seek shelter in nearby areas, which is the case in this situation,” Mr. Calagna said, referring to work under the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, a rewiring project in Peter Cooper Village and construction by Con Edison on 14th Street.
”We have quadrupled our efforts in the last month,” he added. Poisoned rat bait has been placed in three areas where concentrations of rats have been sighted, he said: 23rd Street and First Avenue; a garden area in the middle of the development; and the corner of 14th Street and First Avenue.
To safeguard children and pets, the poison is placed in garden areas rather than along walkways, and is buried, since rats are burrowing creatures. The bait has a meat scent that attracts rats, not squirrels, and is placed in containers too small for cats to use. The ivy where rodents hid has been trimmed, and warning signs have been posted throughout the complex.