Rally planned over planned squirrel feeding ban

A squirrel and a park goer share a bench at Madison Square Park. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A group of animal rights activists will be holding a rally on the front steps of City Hall on Tuesday to protest a full wildlife feeding ban in city parks that’s expected to begin this summer.

The Bronx Animal Rights Electors is arguing that the mayor has “only listened to the Parks Department’s arguments for the ban and now, despite overwhelming public opposition and without any form of a city council review, he approves the Parks Department steamrolling this ban.”

Earlier this year, the Parks Department, which technically always forbade the feeding of animals in city parks, except for squirrels and birds, pushed for a full wildlife feeding ban. The reason, the department explained at the time, was to keep rats at bay.

“We think all New Yorkers should be healthy eaters, including our wildlife,” spokesperson Meghan Lalor said. “But, food left on the ground is an open invitation for rodents to congregate for a free meal. This amendment will help to clarify the rules, and keep our parks safe and clean.”

But the Bronx group is disagreeing with Parks’ view that the critters can fend for themselves with what Mother Nature provides.

“The Parks’ landscape has changed over the years and trees supplying these food sources have been removed,” said the group. “Those planned to be re-introduced are not there now or are not mature enough to produce the food sources necessary.”

The advocates are also saying the looming ban has been very upsetting to bird and squirrel feeders “such as Liliana Berezovschi, a 75-year-old woman with stage 4 cancer who finds feeding birds therapeutic. Daniel, a homeless man with lung cancer feeds squirrels daily in Madison Square Park.”

Those caught breaking the rule could in theory be issued a $50 summons, but it’s unclear how much enforcement there will actually be. The Parks Department has said tickets would be issued only “where absolutely necessarily” and that the first step would be educating the public.

The rally will take place at 1 p.m. 

7 thoughts on “Rally planned over planned squirrel feeding ban

  1. Bah Humbug !
    How Mean !
    Squirrels need to eat – and ! there will always be rats, mice
    no matter whether the squirrels eat or not.
    What about all the rats where there are no parks ?

  2. If anyone dares to “rally” in The Stuy (about ANYTHING), they will quickly find themselves arrested by NYPD and/or evicted. And it would also likely NOT be covered in this ‘newspaper’.

  3. Nobody should leave food other than nuts and seed for the wildlife. The kind of food we humans eat can kill them and most definitely invites rats. I frequently feed the squirrels and birds during the winter months (and have no intention of stopping) and the food is gone in a flash! Never any leftovers! Bread, cake and other kinds of human food is very bad for the critters. If you want to help them, find out what they need and supply it. Peanuts are not good for squirrels because they bury them and they go moldy. Buy good qualify seeds such as walnuts or filberts and buy wild bird food. Otherwise, leave them alone.

  4. Incredible that the Mayor and Parks Dept want to label people performing an act of compassion, “criminals.”

  5. I am surprised that no one from city hall suggested a natural predator for the rats and mice, introduce SNAKES to city parks to control the rodent problem.

    I hope you sense the sarcasm in this comment.

  6. Pingback: Protesters slam squirrel feeding ban | Town & Village

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