The rats in Tompkins Square Park are getting out of hand, neighborhood parents say, and it is all the fault of...a red-tailed hawk? Even though the city spent good money fixing up the playground in Tompkins Square (New York named it the best in the city last year) it has in the past few months become a haven for rodents, with rats even burrowing holes into the children's sandbox! But the city won't put down any rat poison because one of the 30-odd hawks in the city has made the park his home.

The issue has gotten to the point that parents have gone and made a group to try and get the city to deal with them (the Tompkins Square Park & Playgrounds Parents' Association, or TSP3A for short). And they aren't looking for anything besides a clean park for their children to play. “We don’t want press conferences,” TSP3A founder Chad Marlow told the Villager. “We don’t want letters. We don’t want promises. We want results."

But results are going to take a bit. "They're completely out of control and just as brazen as you like all over the park," Matthew Arnold, a local parent, tells us. "But particularly around where the playground is, probably in part because that's where the pigeon ladies run their bread crumb sorties, and also because it abuts a row of popular benches and Avenue A with all of its restaurants."

The city and the Parks Department, for their part, say they are doing what they can. For instance, they are in the process of replacing the trash cans with covered garbage drums to keep the rodents from additional food. They are also ripping out some plants and ground cover where the rats dig and hide, which they'll replace with wood chips. But they won't be putting poison out anytime soon because of that red-tailed hawk. “Accidental poisoning is the second-most common cause of death of birds in the city, after collisions with cars and buildings,” Glenn Phillips, the director of New York City Audubon, told the Local. “It is a big deal.”

"I hear the hawks are catching some shit for" the rats, Arnold told us. "Seems to me that cutbacks are more likely the culprit, but if true, then just as the answer to objectionable speech is more speech, the answer here is clearly MORE HAWKS!"

And before you start complaining about Park Slope propeller parents moving to Alphabet City and how the rats can't really be that bad and how in your day you used to keep feral rodents as pets and bring them to school for show-and-tell and so on, take a look these photos of the rats on Neither More Nor Less and then let's talk about how there isn't a rat problem in Tompkins Square Park.