Transit officials are ready to try a new sterilization method to limit the amount of rodents infesting New York City's subways, according to a published report.
The MTA will work with SenesTech Inc., a biotechnology company focused on animal population control, to test out a form of bait that induces early menopause in female rats, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"It's a very natural thing," co-founder of SenesTech, Dr. Loretta Mayer, told the Journal. "We're just accelerating it in these animals."
The method has already lowered rodent populations in rural environments without harming other animals, humans or crops, the company says.
"Our product is not designed to eradicate any species. That's a human error that needs to not be repeated,” Mayer told the Journal.
Thomas Lamb, chief of innovation and technology for the MTA, told the Journal that he believed this method would prove more efficient than current rat extermination methods.
"We basically bait, trap and kill," Lamb tells the Journal. "If we just continue to do that, every year we'll have the same expense and the same result."
Female rats tend to reproduce four times a year and bait chosen for subway rats must appeal to their appetite and beat their reproduction rate, according to Robert Corrigan, a rodentologist and adviser to the city.
"Rats that grow up, say, from the Dumpster behind a fast food chicken place, will love chicken," Corrigan told the Journal. "Bagel place, bagels. And so on."
SenesTech will begin testing the bait in subway trash rooms later this month, the Journal reports.