The Squirrels of Washington Square Park have Many Fans But Now also a Killer in their Midst

WSP Squirrel on the Old Benches

Keeping on a protect wildlife theme, the squirrels at Washington Square Park have many fans but not all people are fans. Tragically, there is a woman who is allowing her dog to attack and, in many instances, kill the WSP squirrels. This has been going on for at least a month, if not longer.

As first reported on The New York Squirrel Blog:

We just heard that there is a woman who allows her dog (a German Shepherd mix) to hunt and kill squirrels in Washington Square Park on the NE side. Quite a few squirrels; five that our informants know of in the past few weeks. The dog enjoys killing and they think she does too.

They just discovered this a few days ago and sent a complaint to the current Park Manager. Then yesterday as they were walking through the park, they came upon people gathered around a dying young squirrel. Some of the chess players there saw the dog attack. The woman and dog had just left the park.

Another squirrel was located at the base of the Hangman’s Tree that night. He has two broken legs, which have been set by a vet. With luck, he’ll have use of at least three, but is going to have a hard recovery. It’s not known if he was chased by the same dog, but it’s likely.

There are people watching out for her now, and working on getting more information. She appears in the park around 8 am, and then around 5 pm. Yesterday she varied her routine. She’s young, medium height, slim, w/long dark shiny hair. She wears sunglasses.

Her age has since been reported as close to forty.

According to WSP activist and squirrel nurturer Suzan Goren, the last known dog-squirrel encounter ending in the squirrel being mauled and killed occurred last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. It is said that this woman allows this on purpose, letting her dog escape out of the dog run, feigning innocence about it, alternating with outrage if questioned.

This story was exposed further in Saturday’s New York Daily News.

If you witness this, The New York Squirrel blog asks people to “call the Parks Office at 212.387.7676 if she’s seen. They want her apprehended for animal abuse.”

It’s sad all the way around – for this woman, the dog, and obviously the squirrels. I was in Madison Square Park recently and was a bit appalled at the number of people who allow their dogs to chase squirrels and laugh about it. It becomes a form of the dog’s play activity and also seems to amuse the owner-guardians of the dog but I’m sure they can find other activities that do both. It’s likely that the Madison Square squirrels do not have as active a squirrel protectors’ community as the ones living in Washington Square Park.

Photo: Cathryn

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Alternatives to Housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park – Two Public Meetings Being Held

Brooklyn Bridge Park Committee on Alternatives to Housing will be holding two meetings in the coming weeks offering an opportunity for the public to testify on “alternative sources of revenue that could finance operations of the park in lieu of revenues from the Pier 6 and John Street development sites.”

Dates & locations are:

Tuesday, November 30th 6-8 p.m.
Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street
Avram Conference Center, 1st floor

Thursday, December 9th, 6-8 p.m.
St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street
Founders Hall Auditorium, 1st floor

Previously at WSP Blog, I wrote about this park which borders the waters on Brooklyn’s side which separate Brooklyn and Manhattan:

Recently it was announced that BBP’s completion is behind schedule at least five years. Community activists are (again) pushing for “housing-free” Park. Presently, 1400 units of “luxury housing” are in New York State’s plans for the park. The Brooklyn Paper reports: “In the decades since community activists and local officials started planning Brooklyn Bridge Park, the proposal has changed from a sprawling public greenspace that would be part of the city’s regular park system to a state-built and-operated development whose open-space component would be maintained through fees charged to residents of luxury condos within the park’s footprint.”

More of the park has been completed since that was written in 2008 and part is now open. There was a controversy earlier this year over the really bad decision by the park management to install metal domes that turned out to burn children’s hands (and whatever other part of their bodies that touched it).

A letter from the Cobble Hill Association printed at Pardon Me for Asking Blog explains the issue further, illustrating the way parks are being used by the Bloomberg Administration and NY State to increase real estate values over quality of living:

Despite what some may think, these luxury high-rise towers are not needed to fund the park’s maintenance. There are many solutions to “pay” for park maintenance. When condos came into the park all year round recreation came out. Landscaping replaced the two pools, the indoor recreation center and ice rink that the community had worked so hard for decades to get. Landscaping sells condos while baseball fields do not.

More from the letter:

The city is still planning to build 5 more luxury condo and hotel towers inside the park’s borders (more…)

The Fate of Prospect Park’s Geese: Wildlife Advisory Public Meeting Wed. Nov. 17th – Speak Out

The Prospect Park Geese, as they once were

Former Prospect Park Geese Swimming - Prior to being Killed

The killing of somewhere between 250 and 400 geese at Prospect Park under the false pretense that they were impacting air “safety” led to vocalized outrage from park-goers and the nearby community. The geese were reportedly killed by gassing on park premises. The furor over this was directed towards the Prospect Park Alliance which recently announced it had formed a “Wildlife Management Advisory Committee.” This committee will be holding a public meeting Wednesday, November 17th to outline their plan and it is open for public comment.

It is important to note that it has never been stated previously that the geese in any way needed to be managed. It appears “managing the geese” was in the back of park management’s minds at the time of their gassing because it is now well known that Prospect Park is actually outside of the stated 7 mile designated range around NYC airports where geese were removed and killed (up to 1600 this year – 1200 last year – again, allegedly for “airline safety”).

The Prospect Park Alliance, the private entity in charge of the park, is now saying outright that the geese need to be “managed.” What that usually means is habitat modification (okay, I don’t have a problem to some degree with that), egg oiling (to prevent the eggs from hatching) and sometimes dogs to scare the geese away … yes, it’s better than killing, but is it (a) necessary and (b) the right thing to do?

This brings up other questions:

Is there some reason we can’t live with/share this 585 acre park with other species, even if there are some who consider them large in number?

Can we as a species learn to live with other species?

Who decides what is “too many”?

With Canada Geese being shoved out of the suburbs and outlying areas, where should they live, if not in a large public park where they are enjoyed by many?

Let’s protect our wildlife!

Note: There are now over 100 new geese at Prospect Park. Killing does not do anything – new geese fill the void. Geese are not, it must be noted, the main ‘culprit’ colliding with planes. Should we extinguish every bird in the sky? Clearly – although some would advocate for that – that is not possible. The onus is on the airline industry which is, at present, being protected by the USDA – the agency in charge of the mass killings – although NYC government gave them the go ahead.

Speak out at a public meeting to discuss next steps:

Wednesday, November 17th
6 p.m. at the Prospect Park Picnic House, enter at 3rd Street and Prospect Park West (inside the park) Brooklyn
phone # 718-965-8953

closest train: F/G to 9th Street 7th Avenue (exit at 8th avenue) or 2, 3 to Grand
Army Plaza

* Previously on WSP Blog:

The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

Photos: Cathryn

Saturday Early Evening at the Park: A View Through the Arch

Saturday Early Evening at the Park; A View through the Arch

A view through the Arch: the Empire State Building in red, white & yellow. And a guy in blue. November 6, 2010.

Photo: Cathryn.

Today, Saturday, November 6th 12-5:30 p.m. – Support NYC Shelter Reform/Learn More at Washington Square Park

Updated with AC&C links!

I’ve long thought the New York City shelter system, Animal Care & Control (AC&C), wasn’t going far enough to spare animals’ lives – it’s reported that 13,000 cats and dogs were killed last year in the New York City shelter system.

13 THOUSAND KILLED.

There are only three shelters – which cover all FIVE boroughs in a city with 8 MILLION people – and all are placed in locations that are not easily accessible for most. (The Brooklyn location is in East New York.) Shouldn’t our animals be given the best chance for their lives to be saved by being easily adoptable and every chance that can be given explored ?

The “system” has always been problematic but budget cuts have made the problem more glaring. People are rallying, after too long a silence, to reform the system. A few years ago, it was stated NYC was going No-Kill. This seems further away than ever.

One of the members of Board of Directors of the AC&C is NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

The first gathering of a new independent coalition to reform the AC&C will be held today, Saturday, November 6th at Washington Square Park, 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. near the Holley Plaza (to west of the Fountain). Join in and find out more.

From the press release at the Vintage Cats blog:

Concerned New Yorkers are coming together on November 6th at Washington Square Park to educate the public about what is happening to the homeless pets of NYC. The goal is to force the NY ACC to reform so that the needless killings of adoptable pets can be stopped.

This year significant funding was cut from New York City’s Animal Shelter system’s (NYACC – New York Animal Care and Control) budget. Food and supplies have run out over the last few weeks. New Yorkers have been donating food and supplies to keep the cats and dogs fed. The shelters are severely under funded. In fact, there are only three shelters for all five boroughs.

On November 4th phone lines at the ACC were turned off. The public can no longer call in to inquire, or to adopt a cat and dog.

WSP Blog note: This is a particularly important piece of information:

The NY ACC is considered a private charity organization, but its board is made up of city officials. Several of them are from the Department of Health, as it is this agency that provides most of the funding for the shelters. Current board members must be replaced by caring, innovative, and experienced leaders in animal rescue, rather then civil servants with no experience in working for animal welfare and city bureaucrats.

Board members employed by the City of New York cannot challenge the Department of Health’s lack of funding. The NY ACC must start anew as a true charity organization without any ties to a city agency, except for funding.

And this is shocking and sad:

The board purposely hides the fact that the reason the animals are destroyed is because of lack of space and resources. A bulk of their funding comes from an organization called Maddie’s Fund. This organization (more…)