Since April 2012 SenesTech’s co-founders Dr. Cheryl Dyer and Dr. Loretta Mayer have been engaged in a conversation with the mayor of New York City and their rat task force. The conversation was about whether SenesTech’s new and experimental approach to controlling rats would work in the subways. It began with a phone call, then a trip to New York for a meeting with the mayor.
New York City wanted to add another weapon to their arsenal in their war with the rats. Perceptions are that the subway wall and underground tunnels are harboring millions of rats. There is no way to know for sure and no reliable way to count them.
Rats have been filmed climbing on people sleeping in subway benches.
As humans continue to litter the subway with piles of garbage and left over food, rats continue to come for the harvest. According to Bobbie Corrigan from the Rodent Control Academy in NY, the subway is not their preferred place to live, yet the massive amounts of food there make it irresistible. He said rats tend to favor “lots of healthy soil that has good cover” where they’re “protected from predators or the elements.”
The talks and meetings ended in an NIH grant for $1.1 million, to fund the research in the New York subways. Conducting on site research in NYC is an important step that could lead to securing EPA approval and the use of a SenesTech product not only in NYC subways but around the world. “What the compound does is specifically targets a cascade of events in the ovarian follicle, or where the egg is nested within the ovary. That cascade of events sets up the message that the cells will die,” says SenesTech’s CEO Loretta Mayer. In effect, the rodent succumbs to early-onset menopause – or as Mayer’s colleagues started calling it, “mouseopause.”
Initially a team from SenesTech scouted the area and made a plan. The plan; focus on the trash rooms where garbage from the subway is stored. All that NYC garbage was a rat magnet for sure. Next, after determining there was sufficient rodent traffic, bait stations were armed and placed. Over a period of several months the stations were checked, bait eaten by rats, measured and more data collected. The bait also contained a Rhodamine dye that makes their whiskers glow under a UV light and they tracked what rats ate with motion-sensor cameras.
NYC is hoping to use this product as part of their integrated approach to rodent management. They will continue to trap, poison and bait to reduce the rats in the subway. There is much excitement about adding it to the master plan for rodent management and high hopes that it will be effective.
Early data collected indicate the rats like the bait and are eating it in sufficient quantities to be effective in reducing or eliminating their reproductive functions. In fact, results have been so positive more studies are in the works for NYC.
*Title quote by Scott Boac.