Paris (CNN) — Can humans and rats live together? That is what the leaders of the city of Paris are trying to find out. The French capital, like many metropolises, has a notorious rodent problem.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo is forming a committee to study “cohabitation” — and the extent to which humans and rodents can live together — one of her deputies said Thursday during a city council meeting.
Anne Souyris, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of public health, announced the move in response to questions from Geoffroy Boulard, head of Paris’s 17th arrondissement and a member of the center-right Republican Party.
Boulard had asked the city government to outline a more ambitious plan against the proliferation of rats in public spaces.
He has previously criticized Hidalgo, a member of the center-left socialist party, for not doing enough to rid Paris of rats, including during strikes earlier this year that saw trash piling up across the city.
“The presence of rats on the surface is detrimental to the quality of life of Parisians,” Boulard said.
Boulard said he questioned himself after coming across an ongoing study, Project Armageddon. The project’s mission is to help the city manage its rat population and one of its goals is to fight prejudice against rats in order to help Parisians live better with them.
The study is funded by the French government, although the city of Paris is a partner in the project.
Souyris explained that what was being studied was 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 is not unbearable for Parisians.”
While rats can spread disease, the deputy mayor said the rats in question were not the same black rats that can carry plague, but other types of rats that carry diseases such as leptospirosis, a bacterial disease. Souyris also highlighted some of the actions taken by the city as part of its 2017 anti-rat plan, including investing in thousands of new trash cans to “drive rats back underground.”
souyris he said later on Twitter that the Paris rats do not pose a “significant” risk to public health. He added that he was asking the French High Council for Public Health to intervene in the debate.
“We need scientific advice, not political press releases,” he said.
Animal rights group Paris Animaux Zoopolis welcomed the city’s action.
“Rats are present in Paris, as in all major French cities, so the question of coexistence necessarily arises,” a statement from the group said.
“At PAZ, when we talk about “peaceful cohabitation” with rats, we are not referring to living with them in our houses and apartments, but to making sure that these animals do not suffer AND that they do not bother us. Again, a very reasonable goal!”
CNN has asked authorities in Paris for more details about the plans.
Source: CNN Espanol