To feed or not to feed the squirrels

That is one of the questions asked by SPS after another child gets attacked by squirrel in Stuy Town

A squirrel forages for food in a garbage can in this photo taken last year. (Photo by Brian P. Loesch)

By Sabina Mollot

This one’s a hard nut to crack.

After yet another child was injured by a squirrel in Stuyvesant Town (in this case scratched), Blackstone is asking for residents’ thoughts on what to do with the property’s unofficial mascots.

Nearly a year ago, a child was scratched in the face while playing in a Stuy Town playground, and in the more recent incident, another child was scratched. Two summers ago, three different mothers reported that their children were bitten by squirrels. According to Rick Hayduk, general manager of Stuyvesant Town and CEO of StuyTown Property Services, there was another scratch incident this year in April as well.

In the most recent incident, about two weeks ago, Hayduk said the child was behind a playset at Playground 8 near First Avenue, also known as the train playground, when it happened. While the area where the young resident was at the time isn’t seen by a security camera, both parents later told Hayduk that a squirrel had been looking for food inside the child’s stroller. Upon seeing the stroller’s owner, the squirrel jumped out, clawing the child in its bid for freedom. Hayduk said he doesn’t know the child’s gender or where he or she was scratched, but does know that the child was promptly whisked off to a doctor. Asked if the injury was serious, Hayduk indicated he didn’t think it was appropriate to decide if it was or wasn’t, adding, “I don’t want to understate it.”

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Letters to the editor, Aug. 16

Aug16 toon Vader

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Honorable mensch’un for Ravitch

What is a Mensch? I wanted to get this right so I did a little research. The online Urban Dictionary says: “The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than … a sense of what is right, responsible.” (emphasis added).

I’m casting my vote for Richard Ravitch, the owner of Waterside Plaza, who proposed a plan to the city that would freeze or roll back rents of some residents who are paying a burdensome portion of their income – defined as more than 30 percent — for rent (“Affordability deal proposed for Waterside,” T&V, Aug. 9).

I was in college when the Waterside development was announced and served as a student member of an ad-hoc committee convened by the school to explore how this new, middle income housing complex would impact the college and how the college might best prepare to serve this population of potential new students. I’m quite certain I contributed very little to the discussions, but people much smarter than myself recognized the ripple effect and saw the opportunities and challenges before them.

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Opinion: That moment when you’re poked by a squirrel on a park bench

A similar offender in Stuy Town in 2016 (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Squirrels have been a hot topic in this community and in this newspaper over the years. Each side has been unexpectedly passionate in defending its position, to say the least: one of the most recent controversies involved a resident who received a threatening postcard because of a lukewarm annoyance at the rodents’ ceaseless begging. But the debate has finally become personal because on a weekend earlier this summer, I had an encounter that tipped my bias in favor of a ban on squirrel-feeding.

I was sitting on a bench in Madison Square Park on a Saturday afternoon, minding my own business, when I felt something tap against my shoulder. I turned and realized I was almost face to face with a squirrel, not the expected human hand, perched on the back of the bench, who for some reason thought I had a treat for him.

I’ve never had particularly strong feelings about this topic before and could see both sides of the argument. Squirrels can be a bit ratty-looking but also cute in their own way and I can understand the appeal of communing with nature in a city where nature is scarce. And if someone wants squirrels surrounding them or even climbing all over their body, that’s their business.

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Letters to the editor, June 14

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Watch and learn from The Challengers

The final game of STLL’s Challenger Division was played on Sunday, June 10 at 3 p.m. on the Con Ed west field. The sun wasn’t shinning and drops of rain drizzled upon the players who were undaunted by the less than perfect weather conditions.

The game started out with some fashionable femininity when Anna, wearing the number 1 over a tiered flounce skirt and guided by Red Team Coach Katie, hit the first homer of the game. Number 19, Jonathan, gave the ball a powerful whack before removing his cap, showing off his natural red hair, and rounding the bases with the stride of a long distance runner. Neil, always handsome in shirt number 6, toured the bases, with his own unique style, pausing only to consider a career in photography.

Jamison, number 14, wowed the crowd (especially the pitcher) when she slammed the first ball tossed part way to The East River! Robbie, a tough guy to the finish, made his way to second base wearing jersey number 10 and displaying a true sense of sportsmanship. Jaden, who traveled south from Bronx, N.Y., to wear number 17 with pride has a good-natured mom to run him around the bases. Rory donned the number 8 and a good-looking pair of glasses, before demonstrating his skill and speed.

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Letters to the editor, May 31

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Creeped out by all the critters

I am one of the very privileged to own the title, “Stuy Town lifer.” And what a true blessing it is to live in this great place. I love it! And how wonderful and surprising, in this day and age, to see it getting better and better in so many ways. The ever-increasing beautification is most impressive to me and wholeheartedly welcome Stuy Town’s new self-proclaimed designation — “the oasis.”

I truly feel that breath of fresh air every time I turn the corner at 14th Street and Avenue A.

My favorite spot for reading or meditating is on the benches outside my building alongside Playground 12. The tree-shaded view of the Oval and the kids in the playground are idyllic.

But only for a short moment until the onslaught of squirrels and pigeons. The emboldened rodents are relentless in their jumping on the bench and crawling at my feet. (Think Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”)

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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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Letters to the Editor, November 9

Nov9 Toon deBlahzzz

One man’s trash…

Dear Editor,

This is a reference to Brian Loesch’s letter to the newspaper (“Enough from the squirrels’ PR people,” T&V, Oct. 26).

His letter is very full of nonsense. All over New York City, squirrels seek food in garbage cans. This does not only occur in Stuy Town. Where are the squirrels supposed to go – to McDonald’s? If Mr. Loesch does not like it here, he can move out of the complex and let some poor family move in. I hope that he does no harm to the squirrels.

Best,

Maureen Kaine

Thanks for the wake-up call

Not sure what is going on but at this time of the night (3 a.m.). I am hearing intermittent back-up alarms. When I get up all I can see from my home is a flashing light on the backhoe in the construction site on Avenue C and East 13th street. Is the guard practicing operating it at this time of night?

Last night Con Ed had a delivery at 4 in the morning. With all of the structures they have built on the south side of the street, it is difficult for these tankers to maneuver and the back and forth of their trying to get into the docks is quite annoying at that time of the night.

Is it really necessary for such deliveries at that time?

Does this neighborhood need to be continuously subjected to this noise pollution?

Sherman Sussman, ST

 

Letters to the editor, Oct. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Enough from the squirrels’ PR people

It takes a lot for me to pen a letter on any topic since I have an opinion on almost every subject, but when things get personal, I feel the need to speak out. Of all the topics I now feel the need to speak out about, squirrels were not at the top of my list. When people write letters to the editor describing children attacking wildlife (Ms. Antini), or accuse tenants of spreading false statements of squirrel attacks and rummaging through garbage cans (Mr. Paslayan), or saying that squirrels are not aggressive (Ms. Turchin), I have to counter those arguments. Especially since my son is a friend of that little girl who was scratched (“Squirrel scratches kid in ST,” T&V, Sept. 14) so I can bear witness to this firsthand.

As a lifelong resident of over 50 years in Stuy Town and now raising two very young children here, I am constantly in the playgrounds and because of this I am witness to squirrels not only rummaging through garbage cans (picture included), but also going in and out of people’s strollers seeking and stealing food.

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Letters to the editor, Oct. 5

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Dog runs need owners to pitch in

Re: “Dog owners say lack of open space the biggest challenge” and “Redesigned dog run in the works for Madison Sq. Park,” T&V “Dog Days” issue, Sept. 21

As an individual charged with attempting to administer the Union Square Dog Run (U-Dog), I found several comments in the two stories worthy of further pursuit:

 In the Madison Square story Ms. Munoz says she doesn’t bring her dog into the run because of the smell. Can’t resist a remark here — where does Li Li pee that she mops it up or does she realize she spreads the same smells around town for all pedestrians and children by going around the run?

Ms. Dang said she passes U-Dog up to go to Madison Square because our run smells worse due to the surface. The surfaces are the same! As is Washington Square.

But she also adds her preference that she likes paving options because “Concrete is easier to clean.” I always wonder, who do all these people think “cleans” the run? There is no service out there, the owners either pitch in and monthly pour cleansers and water or they let rain do it.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

U.S. can’t always say yes to citizenship

To the editor:

In his “America’s Soul” column, T&V, Sept. 14, Steven Sanders put forward the idea that people who are “fleeing oppression, or [for that matter] just seeking a decent life,” have the same right to be here, on that account, as those who came here legally in the past. Mr. Sanders does acknowledge that “…these people and their children [are] not here lawfully,” and “nations need to have policies to accept new citizens,” yet neither acknowledgement counts for much in his column. Both get set aside… largely because America is the “beacon of hope.”

I too think that Mr. Trump’s maybe-desire to send them back to their native land is sleazy, despicable and expected, but I differ from Mr. Sanders undeclared view that there is now a new way, previously unknown, to obtain citizen status here in America: pain, fear suffering and illegal entry. A person’s life in a foreign country — even a brutal life in a brutal country — may be a horror, and it may be a good and relevant reason to consider granting, and then granting, citizenship, but a life in another country is neither a grant nor a right to U.S. citizenship. Living here as a citizen is not a right one can grant oneself. 

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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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Parents nuts about squirrel signs

A sign outside Peter Cooper Village’s Playground 2 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maya Rader

Last week, signs appeared on five of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village’s playgrounds telling residents not to feed squirrels within 50 feet of the playgrounds.

Since it was parents who’d been pushing for the signage, not surprisingly several parents T&V spoke with this week almost all agreed putting them up was a good idea.

At Playground 2 in Peter Cooper Village, parent Jay Smith said, “I think understanding that they’re not pets and they’re wild animals is probably the first thing.”

Neighbor Andy Ryan said he’s seen squirrels climb into strollers looking for food.

At the Stuy Town clock tower playground, parent Julie Lee said, “The squirrels here are very aggressive, so it makes sense (to have signs).”

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Signs on squirrel feeding appear outside playgrounds

A sign outside Peter Cooper Village’s Playground 2 (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

Aw nuts! Squirrel feeding is now being actively discouraged in Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village playgrounds.

Following a few reported incidents of squirrel bites on the grounds nearly a year ago, a number of parents pushed the owner to install some signage indicating that people shouldn’t feed the local wildlife. This week, that signage finally appeared — although it only asks people not to feed the squirrels near the playground as opposed to not at all on the property.

The sign, which features a silhouette of a squirrel as well as management’s “Good Neighbors” campaign logo of a blue heart, reads: “Please do not feed the squirrels within 50 feet of this playground.”

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Letters to the Editor, Feb. 2

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

We’ve tamed them, so we owe them

Re: Editorial, “Squirrels: To feed or not to feed?”, T&V, Jan. 19

Dear Editor,

Thank you for the excellent editorial on the knotty squirrel issue in Stuy Town/Peter Cooper. We live a few blocks outside the complex and for decades have walked in to visit friends. Whenever we did, there were squirrels making eye contact and sitting in a begging stance. If we passed them by they would follow and repeat eye contact and begging.

This was two or three decades ago so I have to disagree a bit, i.e. these squirrels are not fully wild and haven’t been for generations. They’ve learned how to prosper in the middle of their humans who have trained them in how to get some of their sustenance.

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Editorial: Squirrels: To feed or not to feed?

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

We definitely don’t recommend doing this. (Illustration by Sabina Mollot)

In mid-July, Town & Village published a story detailing recent complaints made by three parents on a neighborhood Facebook group, claiming that their children had been bitten by squirrels in Stuyvesant Town. While the squirrels in the complex are known for being overly-friendly, this was the first time we’d heard of a child getting bitten by one, let alone three. So we asked around for more opinions, which, as usual, were mixed, though most people we interviewed seemed to agree the resident squirrels were aggressive in their begging habits.

Well, as anyone who reads this paper knows, that coverage didn’t go over too well with the community’s squirrel lovers, who interpreted the parents’ concern as hatred toward the fluffy tailed critters in letters we published. In addition, this newspaper was blasted as being irresponsible. “Malicious,” “slander” and “perverse” were some of the words used to describe the article, written by Town & Village editor Sabina Mollot. Our publisher, Chris Hagedorn, even got a call from a woman who threatened to boycott every business that advertises within our pages for our treatment of the local Eastern Grey population.

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