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.