Friday, June 10, 2011

Pale Male and Company, Plus rat bait in Central Park and Riverside.

Photo courtesy of
And then there were four, the entire family atop the nest.
Pale Pants from the trip to the nest, and the eyasses hawk eyes focused look at Mom and the meal to be.

Photo courtesy of

The Fifth Avenue Eyasses-Wouldn't you like to sleep that fully relaxed flat on your face in a pile of stick?

A response to Robin of Illinois’s letter to Parks Commissioner Adrien Benepe concerning rat poison in Central Park--

Note my [Robin's, D.B.]underlined and bolded lines in the last paragraph.

I did not write this man. I wrote to Benepe; so Benepe, apparently, has washed his hands of the issue and has passed it along to this person's in-box.

Dear ---:

The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation has forwarded your correspondence regarding the use of pesticides in Central Park .

The single most effective measure that the Central Park Conservancy uses to control rats is aggressive garbage control, including strict sanitation practices which significantly reduce the need for baiting. In addition to keeping all of our landscapes as clean as possible during the day, we have dedicated staff at night whose job it is to empty trash receptacles after 4:00 pm. We utilize rat-proof trash receptacles in heavily trafficked areas, and we are implementing greener practices which will reduce the amount of trash inside the Park.

When a decision is made to put out limited bait, it is premised on the fact there is an actual infestation of rodents. Rats pose a risk to public health and safety. They contaminate food, damage structures and property, and transmit parasites and diseases to other animals and humans. Protecting Central Park's wildlife is of paramount importance, and our rodent control program utilizes best management practices that reflect this.

The Conservancy uses rat bait that poses the least potential for secondary kill. We take appropriate measures to minimize the risk to hawks, other predatory birds, and wildlife through the careful use of secured, limited-access bait boxes that contain no more than 3 ounces of rodenticide. Activated bait boxes are constantly monitored to be sure that they are intact. Staff does not bait in areas where hawks and birds feed during nesting and fledgling season, from approximately late-March to October. Throughout the Park, 70% of what appear to be regular bait boxes are actually population monitoring stations that contain a non-poisonous lure.

The amount of rat bait applied in the Park has significantly and continually declined in the last decade. During the same time period, we have received no reports that any hawks or other raptors have been poisoned in Central Park by the active ingredient used in our limited baiting program. We have been witnessing a diversification of wildlife attributable to our finely-tuned program: chipmunks are returning to the Park as a direct result of the reduction in the competing rat population, and we have received reports that there has been an increase in the numbers of white-footed mice. Establishing, maintaining, and protecting a healthy balance of wildlife in one of the busiest urban parks in the world is immensely challenging, and it will always be one of the goals in all of our endeavors.

For matters concerning Central Park , you may get in touch directly with the Central Park Conservancy. Please do not hesitate to call or email Caroline Greenleaf in our Operations Department, who is the Conservancy's Manager of Community Relations, 212-628-1036, ext. 26, or


Neil Calvanese

VP for Operations

Central Park Conservancy

That said there are at least four hawks who suddenly disappeared from Central Park, having not been elsewhere and who's remains have never been found: Lola, Charlotte, Pale Male Jr. and Pale Beauty. According to, parks employees were told not to tell anyone if a dead hawk was found therefore necropsy would not be performed. None of this has been confirmed by me.

In the meantime Bruce Yolton, has had his meeting with the powers that be over in Riverside Park, he reports--

I was in Riverside Park tonight, not only to visit the hawks but to discuss outstanding hawk safety issues with John Herrold, Riverside Park's Administrator.
John Herrold had news of the necropsy results and it looks as though the second generation poison brodifacoum was the cause of death, and not bromodiolone which was used near the Boat Basin Café. This would point to buildings along Riverside Park which use brodifacoum rather than the park itself. (Changing poisoning habits outside the park will be much more difficult than influencing park policy, I'm afraid.)
Mr. Herrold talked about how concerned and knowledgeable his staff was about the hawks. It was good to hear that Riverside Park had the hawks on their radar.
Mr. Herrold did a great job of listening. We spoke of improving relations between Riverside Park Hawk watchers and the park, possibly having a meeting every March to allow hawk watchers to express concerns for the upcoming season and to meet his staff. Knowing names and faces before a crisis goes a long way.

We also talked about the dumpsters and I learned that the inappropriate dumpster has been removed, dumpsters with lids brought in for the Boat Basin Café, and plans are underway to purchase a solar powered compactor for the marina. So, this issue seems to be close to resolution.

We also talked about poisons in the park. Here he feels, that except for poisons placed near the dumpsters, which believes was done in error, the park has been greatly improving its approach to rat management. He believes that over the last five years serious efforts have been made to reduce rodenticide use, by introducing traps, limit garbage, etc.

I asked if he could evaluate the period poisons prohibited around a nests to possibly have them start when nesting begins and also to evaluate the use of underground application of loose poisons rather than using bait boxes. He said he would look into it.

So, it looks like a positive dialog has begun.
The fledglings looked great. Both are being well feed by their mother and one even played on the ground today. So far, so good.

More to come on these matters.

Donegal Browne

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