Parks mulling full wildlife feeding ban

The proposal follows the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s asking park goers to stop feeding the squirrels, arguing its caused more aggressive begging and damage to the park’s tree canopy. (Photo by Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Resident bird and squirrel-lovers, beware: a popular park pastime might soon be banned. The Parks Department announced last Friday that the agency will be holding hearings this March on changes to city rules that would prohibit park patrons from feeding birds and squirrels.

The Parks Department will be holding a public hearing on Friday, March 1 for a proposed amendment to the rules regarding feeding animals in parks. The current rules on wildlife feeding don’t specifically ban the feeding of birds and squirrels but under the proposed amendment, feeding all animals in city parks would be prohibited. Under the current rule, feeding all other animals in city parks, including in zoo areas, is not allowed.

The agency said that one of the main reasons for the new rule is to reduce food sources for rats and other rodents as a humane method of pest control.

“Sharing your last slice is generally good etiquette in NYC, unless you’re sharing it with a rat or a squirrel,” a representative for the Parks Department said. “Feeding wildlife in parks creates a mess and is bad for the health of our native wildlife. Through our new policy, we’ll make sure that squirrels, pigeons, and other animals don’t rely on takeout.”

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Fly up and be counted

The early hawk catches the mourning dove in Stuyvesant Town during a local Christmas bird count. Despite poor weather conditions, participating birders still saw some unusual birds. (Photo by Ron Lulov)

Local birders conduct annual avian search

Despite truly miserable weather on Sunday, December 16, a team of devoted birders made their annual jaunt through Stuyvesant Cove and Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village to do their part for the annual city bird count. One of them, Stuy Town avian expert Anne Lazarus provided Town & Village with the official count from the walk as well as some birds seen earlier by participants throughout the week. (16 different species on count day, 14 during count week, for a total of 30 kinds of birds.) This was far fewer than usual for the tree-filled neighborhood, but due to the nonstop rain, Lazarus said it was one of the most difficult birding days she’d ever seen.

While at the Cove, “Low tide looked more like an approaching high tide. The wind and pelting rain did not help,” she said.

The day’s sightings included an immature Cooper`s Hawk as well as an adult Cooper`s Hawk with its prey, an unfortunate mourning dove, secured firmly in its talons as it perched on a sweet gum in Stuy Town not far from the 16th Street entrance to the First Avenue Loop.

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Update: Bronx Zoo rep thinks lizard’s fake

The Department of Conservation said this lizard won’t be able to survive long in the cold. (Photo by Valerie Nilsson)

Update: We showed the photo of the lizard to a source at The Bronx Zoo who believes it is a fake due to the way it’s positioned.

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier in the week, Valerie Nilsson, a woman walking through Stuyvesant Oval spotted what appeared to be some kind of lizard in a patch of grass. However, the three-foot-long creature appeared to be so still she wondered if it was a toy or prop someone had put there as a prank. Later noticing it was gone, she posted a photo she took of the lizard on the local Facebook group Stuyvesant Moms to ask if anyone else had seen it.

So far, no one had and Stuyvesant Town management has said no one has reported it as a missing pet.

Town & Village sent the photo to the New York State Department of Conservation, where a spokesperson said based on the photo it appeared to be a Monitor Lizard in the Varanidae family of lizards.

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Bunny spotted outside Stuyvesant Town

Jan3 Bunny by Susannah Appelbaum

This bunny is now at ABC Hospital. (Photo by Susannah Appelbaum)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town residents have been wondering about the origins of a bunny that appeared in the neighborhood over the holiday weekend.

On Sunday, the critter was seen outside Ess-a-Bagel on First Avenue. One resident, Lola Franco, told Town & Village the bunny seemed fine when she went to scoop it up so she left it be, later hearing that ST/PCV Public Safety officers had managed to capture it. However, she later went back for it, concerned that the creature could end up euthanized at a shelter. She brought it home and a few hours later, her daughter, who works at the nearby ABC Animal Hospital, took the bunny to work with her for a checkup.

“I’m sorry I didn’t keep it,” Franco admitted. “He was cute.”

The following day, another resident posted on the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association Facebook page about a gray and white bunny sighting at 20th Street and First Avenue. Franco said this was after the other bunny had been caught she didn’t think it was the same bunny seen by different people.

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Tiny owl spotted in Stuyvesant Town

Northern Saw-whet owl in Stuyvesant Town

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

Guess whooooo recently visited Stuyvesant Town?

A resident spotted this brown and white owl on Monday as it perched on a railing by the mezzanine of 525 East 14th Street. He told Town & Village that he’s seen lots of different birds in the neighborhood but the owl was an unusual find in the city. The resident, Mario, who didn’t want his last name mentioned, also noted that he wasn’t expecting to capture this little guy on camera in broad daylight but pulled out his phone and managed to get some shots of the obliging raptor.

Upon seeing the photos, Anne Lazarus, a longtime birder who leads bird watching tours in Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Cove, identified this visitor as a Northern Saw-whet Owl, noting the lack of ear tufts.

“The Northern Saw-whet Owls have been showing up this year,” said Lazarus, adding that a few have been spotted in Central Park. Additionally, despite its size, the owl seen in Stuy Town is not a baby, but an adult, with Northern Saw-whets being one of the smallest owl species in North America. They are comparable, size-wise, to robins.

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Raccoon spotted in Peter Cooper

Oct25 raccoon

The raccoon spotted in Peter Cooper Village

By Sabina Mollot

In recent years, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village has had some surprising animal visitors, including a lost coyote and an injured bat. Rumors of raccoons have abounded, but on Sunday, Peter Cooper resident Suzanne Silber got photographic evidence of one such masked marauder in broad daylight, as it scarfed down a snack.

Silber said the raccoon was eating what appeared to be Veggie Booty or similar dried stick snacks that were scattered on the lawn. Asked about this, ST/PCV General Manager Rick Hayduk said the food had been thrown on the lawn by someone, attracting the attention of the raccoon. He added that management’s environmental services partner has set some traps to try and catch the critter. The traps will only be out for a week or two, though since the raccoon has already appeared to move on from the property on its own.

Silber originally posted the photo on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Facebook page, where another commenter reported seeing the little guy on Monday night near 3 Peter Cooper Road, coming from the fountain area. Yet another TA account poster snapped a photo of presumably the same raccoon spotted Monday night on East 22nd Street between First and Second Avenues.

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Madison Square Park Conservancy begs visitors to stop feeding squirrels

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A squirrel samples human cuisine at Madison Square Park, where, the conservancy says, squirrels, in their growing numbers, have been damaging trees. (Photo courtesy of Madison Square Park Conservancy)

By Sabina Mollot

On the heels of Stuyvesant Town’s management appealing to tenants for suggestions on ways to prevent squirrels from attacking their children, the overseers of Madison Square Park have appealed to community residents with a plea to stop feeding the park’s squirrels.

In a blog post published on the conservancy’s website on Tuesday, August 21, the conservancy told feeders their actions are doing more harm than good, by getting squirrels used to a free food source that disappears in the winter.

Additionally, according to a conservancy spokeswoman, as a result of all the feeding, squirrels have been multiplying more, and due to competition for food and resources, have taken to gnawing on tree branches, damaging the park’s dense tree canopy. Humans have also been getting pestered more, as recently noted in this newspaper by Town & Village associate editor Maria Rocha-Buschel, who was recently poked — twice — on the shoulder by a pushy squirrel as she sat on a park bench.

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NYPD MEW: Cops rescue kitten stuck inside truck engine

HEEEEERE, KITTY, KITTY, KITTY–Around a dozen cops were called to the scene where an adorable kitten (pictured) was stuck inside a postal truck parked in Gramercy. (Photo by Marilyn Pascarelli)

By Sabina Mollot

There was no time for kitten around last Wednesday afternoon when police were alerted that a stray feline had somehow ended up in the engine of a postal truck parked in Gramercy.

The kitten, which may have been seeking a warm place to hide from the wind, was seen inside the truck on the southwest corner of Second Avenue and 19th Street by a woman who was walking by. She alerted Ted Weiner, veterinarian and owner of the nearby Gotham Animal Clinic, who then ran to the 13th Precinct on East 21st Street between Second and Third Avenues for help. Fortunately, Weiner later told us, a police officer he spotted outside immediately went with him to the scene to help.

“He came right away, no second thoughts,” said Weiner. “Apparently he was an animal lover.”

Eventually, about a dozen cops from the precinct and Emergency Service Unit responded, with each attempting to follow the kitten’s helpless cries to figure out where in the truck she was.

“They were under the truck, they were all over the place,” Weiner said.

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National Christmas Bird Count

THESE BERRIES WERE FOR THE BIRDS.—On Saturday, Stuyvesant Town resident Barbara Bienenfeld spied this robin in a snow-covered bush with berries as she walked into the 14th Street Loop at Avenue A. The photo was taken on Saturday, the day before the National Christmas Bird Count.

On Sunday morning, a local group of birders participated in the national Christmas Bird Count, beginning at Stuyvesant Cove and then moving onto Stuyvesant Town.

Local team members were Pearl Broder, Wendy Byrne, Louise Fraza and Anne Lazarus, who passed along the list of bird species that were spotted, including Sharp-Shinned and Cooper’s Hawks attempting to hunt. “Lots of drama out there,” reported Lazarus, who compiled this list.

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Residents concerned over recent squirrel deaths in Stuy Town

Deceased squirrel found in Stuy Town on Tuesday (Photo by Marilyn Pascarelli)

By Sabina Mollot

Several reported sightings over the past couple of weeks of dead and dying squirrels in Stuyvesant Town have had residents wondering what’s going on — since they clearly weren’t devoured by hawks.

One resident, Noam Freedman, said he saw a dying one near Playground 7, with his wife spotting another one behind 7 Oval. The one he saw was lying on the ground, its legs twitching.

“I’ve been here for 50 years and I’ve never seen a single dead squirrel,” said Freedman. “To see two in two days seemed strange.”

On November 15, Freedman noted the incidents on the Tenants Association’s Facebook page. This was followed by a few more residents commenting that they’d seen dead squirrels in different areas in the complex recently.

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Skunk visits Stuy Town, later relocated upstate

Anne Lazarus saw this skunk while out bird watching. (Photo by Anne Lazarus)

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday morning, a resident of Stuyvesant Town who was out bird watching saw a form of wildlife she’d never encountered before — a skunk – by the Oval.

The resident, Anne Lazarus, said at first she thought she was looking at a large cat — possibly around two feet long including its tail – but then realized what it was as it lumbered along the walkway. Therefore, she knew not to get too close.

Upon noticing Lazarus, she said, “It raised its tail and I backed off quickly.” She then contacted a public safety and an officer who’s previously rescued animals, Patrolman Morales, responded. Armed with a bag at the end of a pole he managed to get the black and white critter inside a large container. Unfortunately, this wasn’t without getting sprayed first.

UPDATE: Later, he told us: “Thank goodness I live alone because whoever I was with would have left, I smelled so bad.”

Lazarus had left the scene by that point but later heard from Morales that he’d brought the skunk to an appropriate area in upstate Kingston and released it there.

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Squirrel scratches kid in ST

Management has tried to deal with the issue through signage, but the squirrels have continued their M.O. of approaching people anyway, and looking at you like this. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Just when you thought it was safe to unwrap your Snickers bar in Stuyvesant Town, reports have surfaced of another child getting attacked by a squirrel. Last Thursday, in its weekly newsletter to residents, StuyTown Property Services stated that a child was scratched when a squirrel leapt out of a garbage can.

Because of this, management is asking residents not to feed the local wildlife anywhere on the property. SPS also not so subtly alluded to the fact that residents have been ignoring its rule about not feeding squirrels within 50 feet of the playgrounds specifically for children’s use.

Now, along with the signs, if a resident is spotted by a public safety officer feeding the critters near any of those five children’s playgrounds, he or she will be told to stop, a spokesperson for management told us. The rep added that the scratch received by the child wasn’t serious.

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Hoylman rescues injured bat

On Tuesday, State Senator Brad Hoylman met his battiest constituent yet.

By Sabina Mollot

On Primary Day, the scores of candidates on the ballot for citywide races briefly had their thunder stolen by an injured bat and its rescuer, State Senator Brad Hoylman.

Hoylman said he found the creature, which appeared to be in distress, near a tree pit on East 10th Street.

“I almost stepped on it,” confessed Hoylman, who’d been walking down the street with Bob Gormley, the chair of Community Board 2, at the time. But when looking down, “I saw this furry creature with wings. I’ve never seen anything like it so close.”

He could see it was still alive though, albeit struggling to right itself by flapping around. The copper-colored bat, Hoylman observed, had a wingspan of about seven inches, although the body was comparatively small. It also had, tiny razor sharp teeth, “so I made sure to stay away,” he added.

Concerned that the bat might expire under the hot sun, Hoylman and Gormley got a box from a nearby restaurant, gently scooped up the bat and put it inside. They then brought it to the Wild Bird Fund, which is headquartered on the Upper West Side.

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Injured bat found in Peter Cooper released in East River Park

Bat-hilda, prior to being released, hangs upside down from the edge of a cardboard box. What appears to be the bottom of the box to the viewer of this photo is actually its side. (Photo courtesy of Good Samaritan and StuyTown Property Services)

As Town & Village reported on May 11, an injured bat was found by a resident in Peter Cooper Village, and subsequently passed on to a Good Samaritan recruited by management who then began nursing the winged mammal back to health.

That bat, believed to be an Eastern Red bat, has since been nicknamed Bat-hilda, and has been released into an East Village park.

Marynia Kruk, Stuyvesant Town’s community affairs manager, told T&V this happened on the night of Saturday, May 13.

“He put her on a tree inside East River Park, at East 10th Street and FDR Drive,” said Kruk of the Good Samaritan, who has asked to remain anonymous.

“She soon took off and he lost sight of her.”

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Injured bat found in PCV

Local veterinarian Dr. Timothy Mann said he suspects this bat is an Eastern Red bat, although it’s not normal to see one during the day. (Photo by Lisa Kuklinski)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village have long been well known as sanctuaries to birds as well as squirrels, and in late 2015, the park-filled property was even visited by a coyote.

Still, a Peter Cooper Village mom was shocked on Saturday morning when she and her young son spotted a bat lying on the ground.

Additionally, the bat, which was motionless near 2 Peter Cooper Road, did not appear to be in good shape.

“I thought it was dead because it was lying face up on the ground,” the mom, Lisa Kuklinski, later told Town & Village. “Then I got closer and I could see it was trying to breathe.”

For a moment, she thought about taking it home, “but I don’t know anything about bats,” she said. So, instead Kuklinski called the Public Safety department. She went out again a couple of hours later but by then the bat was gone.

She isn’t sure what happened to the bat to cause it to have lost the use of its wings. “I don’t know if one of the hawks got it.”

Hawks have been spotted more frequently in ST/PCV, as T&V reported in February.

Fortunately, the bat did make it off the pavement alive, according to management.

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