Seven or Eight New York City Red-Tailed Hawks Dead Thus Far in 2012 from Secondary Rodenticide Poisoning; Is Rodenticide Returning to Washington Square Park?

Detex Block Monitors Rodent Activity

In late July, the number of New York City Red-Tailed Hawks dead of secondary rodenticide poisoning numbered six or seven and was receiving red flags of alarm in some quarters. Then, two of Pale Male’s latest children both got sick, were subsequently rescued, and are believed to be on the road to recovery.* In late August, Zena, Pale Male’s most recent mate, disappeared and is believed to be dead. Ginger Lima, his previous mate, died early this year of secondary rodenticide poisoning. A new female hawk has moved in according to the Pale Male Blog (they will not move into the territory unless the other mate is gone).

It’s getting hard to keep track but I think we are at seven or eight (maybe more) deaths – as of early September this year – of Red-tailed Hawks dead due to secondary rodenticide poisoning (eating a mouse or rat poisoned by a rodenticide).

SE corner of WSP

In May of 2011, the Parks Department agreed to remove the rodenticide at Washington Square and NYU made a big thing about how they were advocating for that (and how “sustainable” they are) although nearby University buildings were still displaying rodenticide bait stations. The hawk watchers believe that the rodenticide is coming back to Washington Square and I’d say the monitoring of the “rodents” with Detex (sign above near construction) indicates that is possible.  The hawk advocates are genuinely concerned and with good reason. They seem to want to push for a different, “kinder” (my word, not theirs) rodenticide but is that even the answer?

I will reiterate that I think it’s time to rethink poisons in our city. Author Robert Sullivan, who studied rats in the city and wrote about his discoveries in his book, “Rats: Observations on the History & Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants,” states that removing garbage and the rats’ food source is the key,  even tho’ no one considers that was the “sexier” solution – it IS the solution. He consulted with David E. Davis, the “founding father of modern rat studies” who determined that “when rats are killed off, the pregnancy rates of the surviving rats double and the survivors rapidly gain weight. The rats that survive become stronger. ‘Actually, the removal merely made room for more rats,’ Davis wrote.”

The sign at top is for Detex and is located on the southern end of the park near the Phase III construction. It is allegedly “non toxic” and tracks the “rodent activity.” This bait station (above) is currently in the southeastern section of Washington Square and I don’t know if it’s newly placed or old. An email query to the Parks Department as to its position currently on rodenticides and specifically to Washington Square Park did not receive a response.

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* In a sad turn of events, Jeff Johnson, the person who killed a former co-worker outside the near the Empire State Building a couple of weeks ago, had provided that latest update on Pale Male’s children; he was an avid hawk watcher. The Pale Male Blog has an interesting take on the last time hawk watchers saw him at Central Park in “The Man We Called ‘SUIT.” The New York Times interviewed his mother who spoke of his love of his cat in addition to the hawks. Comments at many of the city’s papers mentioned how hard it is for people right now and how certain things push some people over the edge. The Bloomberg Administration’s coddling of developers and uber-gentrifying of neighborhoods makes it harder for people outside of the Mayor’s billionaire friends to make a living and doesn’t help. Obviously this was a complex situation and sad for everyone involved.

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The Alleged “Cure” Is Worse Than The Disease: Why NYC Ought to Stop Spraying Toxic Pesticides — Central Park/Upper West Side to Be Sprayed Early Friday Morning

Updated

Should we be killing lady bugs?

My first foray into grassroots activism in New York City was in year 2000 when I first became aware of the mass pesticide spraying being conducted to allegedly stop the spread of West Nile virus. I read an article in the New York Times about the effects this spraying would have on the ecosystem, down to the smallest insects. I later learned about the problems the pesticide had on human health but honestly it was the wildlife and the insects that first got my attention and my concern. I went to a meeting and immediately became involved in the No Spray Coalition and, for the last 12 years I have been involved, through our lawsuit against the City of New York, media work, organizing, and on-the-ground activism.

Year 2000: Pesticide spraying of pregnant women and kids on streets of Harlem – video shown in federal court and all news channels

Via the No Spray Coalition’s attempt to get a TRO (temporary restraining order) to STOP the spraying in 2000, that year in federal court, our lawyers showed footage (shot by two volunteers who followed the trucks) of one of the spray trucks careening through Harlem with its toxic brew covering kids, a pregnant woman, people walking out on the street with no warning. That evening, this footage and news of the law suit was shown on every New York City news channel.

The spraying has gone on year after year since then, it gets less attention each year, and less media coverage – that does not mean that it is less problematic. Members of the No Spray Coalition, including myself, met with the City’s Department of Health in January of this year, the final one of two meetings that they agreed to, mandated by the court. This was a result of the settlement of our lawsuit in which the City made some concessions to the health effects of pesticides. You’d never know it from the way the spray program is continuing this summer.

Manhattan has not been sprayed in years; in recent years, the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens get the brunt of it.

In the wee hours of the morning, Friday, August 31st, trucks will be blanketing the Upper West Side of Manhattan from 58th Street to 97th Street, West End Avenue to West Drive – including parts of Central Park – from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

The pesticide the city is using Anvil 10+10 is comprised of sumithrin and piperonyl butoxide, the former is a suspected neurotoxicant and hormone disrupter; the latter a suspected carcinogen.

Local Law 37 passed by the City Council in 2005 – advocating the city’s use of IPM (Integrated Pest Management) first – Is this how it was supposed to be implemented?

In 2005, the City Council passed Local Law 37 which was supposed to incorporate IPM (Integrated Pest Management) into the city system. With the West Nile Virus spraying, the Department of Health grants itself an “emergency” exemption every year for every occurrence and the person who grants the exemption to the Vector Control office of the Department of Health is the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Health. So there’s basically no real oversight of how this is handled.

I’ve been told the The Department of Health cut their budget for larvaciding this year – larvaciding is a preventative measure and the CDC says the most effective one.

I called the Department of Health press office and asked some questions that went beyond the information that was in the press release:  FOUR mosquito pools had “infected” (West Nile virus) mosquitoes in Manhattan? Where were those pools? Is a mosquito pool the same as a trap? What is the criteria for spraying? — It was fairly clear that no one from the press is asking these detailed questions because the answers to those questions were not quite so rehearsed as the others, if they were answered at all.

You have a greater chance of getting hit by lightning than getting West Nile Virus

2600 people die each year in New York City from the flu – the question of whether West Nile Virus is a credible “health threat” looms large. Most who get it won’t even know they have it. Yes, for some people, they may have more severe symptoms but that is not a reason to be exposing EVERY PERSON across countless blocks to these toxic pesticides which weaken our immune systems and make someone who might be susceptible to West Nile virus more so.

Anvil 10 + 10 – Pyrethroid Pesticide

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10″ — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”)

Spraying in Parks = Bad Idea (Again, Should We be Killing Lady Bugs?)

Spraying increases the mosquito population and kills the mosquitoes’ natural predators including dragonflies, bats, frogs and birds.

Spraying parks is particularly horrifying because there is a natural balance there and it harms many of the living beings that inhabit the park, as well as, again, the mosquito natural predators. Some years ago, when I was handing out flyers at Prospect Park before another round of pesticide spraying, a woman told me she walked through the park the morning after it had been sprayed and encountered endless numbers of ladybugs on the ground dying. Should we be killing ladybugs? I don’t think so.

Another resource on the pesticide being used.

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** When I first read the Department of Health press release I thought this round of pesticide spraying was taking place TOMORROW morning not later tonight (Thursday) into Friday morning 8/31. A small clarification, instead of writing “Friday morning August 31 between the hours of 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.,” stating “EARLY Friday morning” would have made a world of difference. I am sure there are people who made the same assumption and do not realize their Upper West Side neighborhood will be pesticide sprayed imminently. **

Nearby In the Media …

Recent stories of interest:

* If you were looking for a primer on NYU’s proposed expansion, check out this NYU Local piece: How NYU Plans to Expand in the Village: The Struggle for the SuperBlocks

* Corruption behind the scenes of the High Line — From The New York World: High Line builder showered city officials with forbidden gifts – and pays no price

* This Crain’s NY Business title isn’t 100% accurate; the Rudin/St. Vincent’s plan still needs to be approved by the City CouncilSt. Vincent’s redevelopment gets green light

* Washington Square Hotel on Waverly Turns 110 via PR Newswire

* Remembering the Tiffany Diner on Sixth Avenue; now a Bank of America Vanishing New York

* City Council Holding Hearing Monday January 30th on Safety in NYC Parks (public participation invited) from A Walk in the Park Blog

Central Park’s Harlem Meer Has a Floating Christmas Tree!

Feeling like NYC has gotten a bit boring and the City government abhors anything too out of the ordinary? Well, check out the Central Park Harlem Meer Floating Christmas Tree via New York Lives:

Great history of that area of the park. When I read the description of the clip sent by New York Lives, I thought a random person must have placed the floating tree there in the water – for fun. However, this was indeed implemented by the management. Whether you celebrate the holidays in any way – or not, there’s something heartening about this.

New York Lives (“a web video site featuring portraits of New Yorkers from different walks of life”) web site.

** Don’t forget caroling at the Arch today at 5 p.m.! **

My Visit to Zuccotti — aka “Liberty” — Park and Occupy Wall Street

The Scene

CNN

Meditation Circle

The People's Library

The Death of the American Dream

Daily Schedule

Guy Sweeping Up

Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps

NYPD

Pigeons take refuge

Where to Recycle

Free Phone Charge

A final look upon leaving

I was quite moved by the scene at Zuccotti “Liberty” Park. For everyone who has been coerced or lulled into believing that our city — as envisioned by NYC billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg — must be increasingly privatized, homogenized and sanitized, thereby crushing much of the essential character that is so intrinsic to New York; the freewheeling, gritty, and collective spirit of Occupy Wall Street/New York illustrates another alternative: what a thoughtful, colorful, and collaborative NYC looks like.

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Previous WSP Blog post: Downtown Public Park Acts as Home Base for Those Taking a Stand September 28th, 2011

Downtown Public Park Acts as Home Base for Those Taking a Stand

"Liberty Plaza" aka Zuccotti Park downtown

So, on the same day that hundreds showed up at Washington Square Park to battle each other with Light Sabers, activists who have set up camp downtown to protest and highlight the inequalities in the U.S. today, particularly in relation to the financial “system,” battled in real life with the NYPD.

Mark Crispin Miller has a piece with video from Saturday (9/24) on his web site which captures the police rough handling mainly females and young kids at 12th Street and University (he wonders “Does Michael Bloomberg wants his cops to kill somebody?” based on the harsh and over-the-top treatment).

Zuccotti Park, a privately owned public park (figure that one out!), has been taken over as home base since September 17th.

See more —

Read Arun Gupta’s piece in The Indypendent: The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation

New York Times, Videos Show Police Using Pepper Spray at Protest on the Financial System

New York Times, Park Gives Wall St. Protesters Place to Call Home

Photo: PWeiskel08 via Flickr

Photo: Central Park is Closed


Daily News has some great photos and updates here related to Hurricane Irene and the city.

Also see New York Times Hurricane Tracking Map.

Stay safe!

Photo: Anjali Mullany

Hazardous Pesticide Spraying in Prospect Park Tonight

Prospect Park Lady Bug - Dead Soon?

After first saying that pesticide spraying would not occur in Prospect Park because of the Celebrate Brooklyn concerts – something that raised a few eyebrows (either something is urgent, or it is not) – the New York City Department of Health backtracked and said pesticide spraying will occur tonight after midnight in the Park.

Prospect Park is a 585 acre park with a 60 acre lake. There are dragonflies and bats — both natural predators of the mosquito, as well as butterflies, ladybugs, bees — all are killed by the pesticide spraying. In addition, people walking through the park tomorrow morning will be breathing in fresh pesticide spray which has known and detrimental health effects. People will be walking their dogs which are close to the ground and they will breathe in and walk through the harmful pyrethroid pesticide, Anvil 10+10.

A few years ago, I flyered Prospect park-goers with literature about the health effects of the pesticides and a woman stopped to tell me, that, after walking through the park the morning after it had been sprayed, she encountered numerous lady bugs on the ground dying.

This is our eco-system — we are charged with protecting it; not killing it.

You have a greater chance of being hit by lightning than getting the West Nile virus. If someone did get West Nile, typically, they would not know it or might experience a slight cold.

The city is also spraying other sections of Brooklyn and Queens. Originally the spraying was to take place Wednesday, August 3rd but was delayed due to rain.

See further information from the No Spray Coalition, an organization I work with —

NEW YORK CITY MUST STOP SPRAYING TOXIC PESTICIDES IMMEDIATELY

The City has announced it will spray dangerous pesticides in crowded residential areas in Brooklyn and Queens on Thursday, August 4th, 2011.

The No Spray Coalition is appalled by Mayor Bloomberg’s and the City’s Department of Health decision to renew the mass-spraying — no legitimate reasons given.

We also condemn the New York City government’s advice to residents and visitors that they personally use insect repellants containing DEET on themselves and their children. DEET is especially dangerous for children and should NEVER be used; it is associated with numerous infant deaths. The City knows this; we negotiated an agreement with the City last year that they wouldn’t recommend DEET.

Furthermore, this year’s spray of choice — Anvil 10+10 — is listed in Local Law 37 (2005 update, see page 1, paragraph 4, discussion of table 2) that states that for piperonyl butoxide and MGK-264 contained as synergists in Anvil 10 + 10, that:

both of these chemicals are classified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs. Only 94 products contain pyrethrins without other carcinogen ingredients. Therefore, most products containing pyrethrins continue to be prohibited under LL37 even if the reference to the EPA list was updated.

Local Law 37 prohibits the use of pesticides by NYC in public places if it contains PBO and/or MGK-264. Why are they violating their own law?

The No Spray Coalition is also deeply troubled not only by NYC’s reckless spraying of Anvil 10 + 10 to kill mosquitoes, but for the City’s very short notice — around 24 hours, that’s it!

“After years of litigation to stop this reckless spraying of pesticides which has contributed to skyrocketing increases in cancer and asthma, and now the collapse of bee colonies in the New York area, I am outraged that the Bloomberg Administration is renewing its mindless criminal poisoning of the people and environment of our City,” said Howard Brandstein, coordinator of SOS-FOOD, NY State Against Genetic Engineering, and a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit brought seven years ago by the No Spray Coalition and other organizations against Rudolph Giuliani and the New York City government.

That lawsuit ended in April 2007, when NYC signed a settlement agreement acknowledging, among other stipulations, that pesticides:
– may remain in the environment beyond their intended purpose
– cause adverse health effects
– kill mosquitoes’ natural predators (such as dragonflies)
– increase mosquitoes’ resistance to the sprays, and
– are not presently approved for direct application to waterways.

The Department of Health contravenes that settlement by now stating that there are no significant risks of adverse impact to human health associated with the proper use of this product. “That is simply a lie,” said No Spray Coalition coordinator Mitchel Cohen. In fact, the spraying puts many New York City residents and visitors at grave risk.

“These kind of ignorant and lying politicians and bureaucrats apparently have no problem destroying our health in order to ‘save’ us from the so-called West Nile virus,” Howard Brandstein added. “Clearly, the spraying jeopardizes a thousand times more people than the disease.”

The pesticide the City is spraying — “Anvil 10 + 10” — belongs to a class of adulticides known as pyrethroids, which are endocrine disruptors. They mimic hormones such as estrogen, and may cause breast cancer in women and drastically lower sperm counts in men. Pyrethroids have also been associated with prostate cancer, miscarriages and preterm delivery, asthma, toxicity to many vital organs including the nervous system, liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal tract, skin rashes, itching and blisters, and nausea and vomiting.

Anvil contains the cancer-causing chemical piperonyl butoxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a suspected carcinogen. It also contains Sumithrin — a synthetic toxin, made in the laboratory — as well as benzene-related chemicals (which the label calls “inert ingredients.”) (more…)

A Sad Day for Inwood Hill Park: Geese Seized by USDA for Slaughter With Complicity of the Mayor (And Why This is Wrong)

Updated 5:35 p.m.

Canada Geese at Prospect Park last year, since killed

How long will Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NYC Parks Department, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Port Authority (which controls NYC air space) be able to put up a pretense that killing Canada Geese that reside in New York City parks is making our airspace safer? This pretense is giving them license to massacre them for the third year in a row.

When will the media start doing its own research and not just repeat back information pro forma from the Mayor and city agency press releases?

800-900 Canada Geese are scheduled to be killed throughout NYC parks in the coming weeks ; this is on top of the 1600 killed last year and 1200 in 2009. (Prospect Park’s geese, close to 400 killed last year, have been given a reprieve.)

Have they actually looked at any of the research? Animal Welfare Institute analyzed the Wildlife Strikes Database and statistics state that “approximately .013 percent of all take offs and landings struck wildlife. The government claims that only one in five (20 percent) are reported. Yet, assuming this is accurate, even if 100 percent of all strikes were reported, this would still mean that less than .068 percent of all aircraft operations struck wildlife.”

In addition, according to statistics, 45 % of all fatal accidents are due to pilot error. Comforting, eh? There is no category on this database for wildlife strikes. There is “other” which is less than 1%.

It seems it’s a lot harder to address human error and takes a lot more guts to speak out on that than it is to kill some innocent geese trying to go about living their lives.

A report on what happened in Inwood from Suzanne who lives there and wrote this last night:

Dear Inwood friends:

I was out on the peninsula this morning when a convoy of trucks pulled up carrying canoes and plastic crates.  It was the people from the Department of Agriculture who had come to capture and kill all of our geese.  There were 30 who had made their home here in our park, including the babies.

There were about a dozen geese in the barbecue area and I started to move in their direction to scare them off to try to save them when one of the men told me that if I interfered with the capture, he would have me arrested If I hadn’t had the dogs with me, I would have accepted that challenge.  It would have been worth it to save a few of the geese.  But realized that if they took me to jail, they would put Bodhi and Bindu in the pound, so I had to leave as they requested.  If my son had been here to take the dogs, I would have accepted the challenge just to publicize this barbarity.  (He’s still in Paris.)

I came back about 15 minutes later with my camera, after calling 311 to register my horror with Bloomberg’s office and the Parks Department, but they had already left with all the geese.  I also contacted NY1 tv (desk@ny1news.com.)  All of the geese were gone, except for two in the far distance.

There is an article in today’s Metro New York about the rounding up and slaughtering of city geese. Check it out at Metro.

If everyone called or emailed to complain about this, perhaps it would make a difference.  It’s too late to save them this year, but this is the third year of this policy and maybe we could prevent a repeat of this next year.  Let’s do everything we can to stop this cruelty. Please call the Mayor (#212/788-3000), Parks Department and email NY1 at the email address above.  Thanks.

A very heart broken Suzanne, Bodhi and Bindu

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UPDATE: Mayor’s office does not like getting calls and 311 is discouraging people from calling and unclear if they are taking complaints at 311 unless you ask for a supervisor. You can fax Mayor’s office at #212/312-0700.

There will be a protest outside Mayor Bloomberg’s mansion with animal and wildlife advocates and concerned New Yorkers organized by Friends of Animals:

When: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 6pm-8pm
Where: Mayor Bloomberg’s Townhouse: 17 East 79th Street, between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue

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Previous WSP Blog post: The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

Central Park Bethesda Fountain Off Limits Now to Performance; Designated “Quiet Zone” Where Musicians are Issued Summonses and Risk Arrest

Central Park Bethesda Fountain

The New York Post reported May 29th on the decision to designate Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain a “Quiet Zone,” putting an end to music performances there and issuing summons to those who defy this. The organization pulling the strings behind this decision is the Central Park Conservancy, the private entity entrusted with the care of this 843 acre public park. This is what happens when a private corporation runs a public park. This clearly has also been condoned by the city’s Parks Department under Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe who was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both Bloomberg and Benepe are big proponents of privatization. (The Mayor also lives near by). A spokesperson from the Conservancy told the Post, “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

From the article at The New York Post:

City officials began blitzing street musicians with nuisance summonses and posted a “Quiet Zone” sign last week at the beloved Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, where virtuoso performers have been making beautiful music together for over a century.

On weekends, baritone John Boyd, 48, would belt out spirituals backed by a choir including six of his nine children and fellow classical buskers. But two months ago, Parks police descended on the Bethesda Terrace arcade with a message: Muzzle the music.

Last week, they posted a Quiet Zone sign banning Boyd and other serious musicians from playing in the arcade where world-class performers offer their talents for free to ordinary New Yorkers. …

After being hit with five summonses totaling $2,300, the former choir director from Detroit was arrested by Parks cops Wednesday and hauled in handcuffs to the Central Park police station.

“I have a right to free speech,” said Boyd. “When I sing, it is expressing what I believe in. I told them, ‘You are not chasing me away.’ ”

On Friday, passer-by Rhonda Liss, 63, of Yonkers, asked Boyd if she could join him in an impromptu duet.

“You have such a beautiful voice,” said Liss, a onetime Met opera singer and “Phantom of the Opera” cast member in Toronto. The pair tossed off a jazzy rendition of “My Favorite Things.”

“Is this what they want to arrest people for — singing joy to the people?” she asked incredulously.

When asked about the music crackdown, a spokesman for the Central Park Conservancy, the cash-flush nonprofit that runs the park for the city, said: “The fountain is a place for quiet reflection.”

Interesting thread of comments at the Post site. One commenter says, “Bloomberg should be hauled in front of a court for the crime of destroying the soul of New York City.”