Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"Harassment of Wildlife Prohibited"

There is an adventurous pair of geese at Central Park. Over the past couple of weeks. I have seen the young pair bouncing around from the Great Lawn, to Turtle Pond to apparently, the Boat Lake yesterday.  But, more about them later.....
I could not face returning to Harlem Meer yesterday.  As crucial as monitoring this site is during the spring, the events of this past weekend were sufficient to set my emotions into a downward spiral, tail spin (especially the loss and presumed killing of Piggly, one of the beloved, "Three Duckateers.")  
A couple of calls yesterday to Central Park Rangers and Central Park Conservancy did not help. The park ranger simply told me (as always) that they "do not have the staff" to monitor the entire park. "We are mostly assigned to the south part of Central Park," she added.
"But, you need to direct resources where they are MOST needed -- the NORTH side of Central Park -- particularly on weekends!" I replied.  "If some kid drowns after fishing and falling from some small rock in the water, WHO is responsible?"
"The Dana Center is supposed to monitor the fishing since they rent out the equipment," the ranger answered.
But, as reported in yesterday's entry, the "Dana Discovery Center" is apparently out to lunch at Harlem Meer -- as it has been for at least the past two years that I have consistently observed and reported fishing abuses at the Meer.  The Dana Center is completely clueless as to what is occurring right outside their door, including breed identification of resident, flightless ducks. (Brad is a Rouen duck, as was Piggly. Wiggly might be Rouen or Kacki Campbell.)
Once again it is a case of "pass the buck" with seemingly no one wishing to assume any responsibility for either what is happening to wildlife in the area or what WILL eventually occur to some careless child trespassing "off limits" areas.   It always seems to require some mishap to humans that necessitates action.. --  Actions that should have been taken in the first place to prevent such mishap. 
Swirling in emotional malaise yesterday, I instead returned to more southern parts of Central Park, rather than "face" any more calamity and despair at Harlem Meer.
My first stop was to Turtle Pond, where I have occasionally observed two geese over recent weeks, "pond and lawn hopping" from there to the Great Lawn.
The two geese were a source of amusement, especially when on the Great Lawn.
"Don't you guys know you're NOT supposed to be on the lawn?" I murmured last week.  "You're looking for trouble over there!"
As if hearing the warning,  the two geese then took off form the Great Lawn and landed in Turtle Pond.
The goose couple were not at Turtle Pond yesterday however -- or the Great Lawn.  
But, I encountered other bird lovers who I am familiar with at Turtle Pond.
"Hi, Patty, how are you?" the woman who I will refer to as "K" greeted me.
"Good, good, " I answered, feeling some relief seeing K and her friend, J. "How are things going here?  Are you seeing any geese?  Any changes in the fishing?"
"Just two geese that come here occasionally," J answered. "But, the fishing has been a nightmare!"
J then went on to explain some of the recent fishing problems at Turtle Pond.  She showed me a picture in her cell phone of a long discarded fishing line left in the marshes around the pond, representing threat to birds, turtles and possibly even fish.
"But, look at this!" I said,  pointing to two new "No fishing off deck" signs posted on the little pier at Turtle Pond.  "This is good news!  When did they put the signs up?"
"Oh," K laughed. "Well, I wasn't here to personally see unfortunately.  But I understand from witnesses that a fisherman hooked another fisherman while fishing off the deck recently.  That's what prompted the signs, not our complaints."
"Wish I could have seen the fisherman hook another fisherman!  That must have been hilarious!  Instead, I typically see misery to wildlife at Harlem Meer especially with the fishing.....Lost one of the domestic ducks this weekend to suspected cruelty." 
K agreed that the purported fishing incident was funny.  But, she also told me that she and her bird-loving friends don't go to Harlem Meer anymore exactly for that reason -- The fishing abuses and taunting of wildlife.
"Its too upsetting going to Harlem Meer. J and I haven't been there for years."
While K and I talked, her two other friends tossed peanut treats to two mallards who danced and flew around them like trained circus performers.  "Wow, can't believe Daisy is still here and doing tricks!" I laughed.  We all enjoyed the "show" put on by the ducks, a couple of swallows and a gorgeous cardinal who happened by. 
Finally, I told J that I wanted to check on Mama and Papa goose at the Boat Lake before it got dark. I gave her a small handful of fliers from (27) GooseWatch NYC  and we both agreed on the necessity to be "proactive" on trying to protect the wildlife of Central Park before most of it vanished or was (in the case of geese) deliberately destroyed.
Arriving to the Boat Lake, I was at first perplexed.
There were three geese at the north tip of the lake near the Oak Bridge. 
"That's odd," I thought.  Normally geese don't venture to that somewhat muddy area of the lake.
Stranger still, was that one of the geese was harassing the other two in the water.-- Loudly honking, chasing and nipping tail feathers.   Must be some kind of family dispute I reasoned to myself and then walked on to the Ramble to search Mama and Papa goose usually further south on lake.
When arriving to an observation point, I was surprised and a little worried to only see Mama goose sitting atop the couple's favorite rock.
Where's Papa? I wondered.
But, Mama was not at all perturbed and immediately left the rock to swim and greet me at other side of lake.
As usual, I hand fed Mama some sunflower treats which she happily scooped up.
After about ten minutes of private time with Mama, I could see one goose suddenly swimming our way from north side of lake.
That must be Papa! I thought, relieved.
Sure enough, it was Papa!  
He finally arrived to the rock, walking up proudly and honked what I am sure was assurances to Mama that he had "just taken care of" the two young rascal geese who had dared to invade their space.
"Those little rowdies are vanquished to the north side of the bridge, dear.  No need to fret about them!" 
Mama just cooed to Papa and both of them shared treats together on the rock. "Good job, honey, good job!"
Finally, when the two "lovebirds" had their fill, they both stepped into the lake to leisurely return to their home rock situated in middle of the water for presumably a good night's sleep.
Leaving the Boat Lake, I was surprised to see the two other geese still north of Oak Bridge.
Papa had drawn out the boundary lines for them well. Apparently, the boundary was the tiny bridge itself.
But, my guess is these are the two "adventurous" geese from Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn, "pond hopping."   They are probably already back at the pond and grassy lawn. 
A short while ago, I spoke with an official from Central Park Conservancy about the disturbing incidents at Harlem Meer over the weekend.
She assured me the park would direct more monitoring and law enforcement resources to the area.
I also suggested that signs be erected in the location informing park patrons that any taunting or harassment of wildlife is strictly prohibited.  
She told me that is a possibility since it is already against park rules to harass or torment wildlife. Perhaps they could combine the "No Harassment" signs with "No feeding" signs already standing at Harlem Meer?
We just need something that somehow gets the message across that the wildlife in our city parks are not targets for wanton, human cruelty.
I hope if anything comes out of Piggly's (and Angelina's and the two Pekin ducks of 2010) untimely demises, it is that these signs and better law enforcement occur at Central Park.
Tonight I will return to Harlem Meer -- and pray that Brad and Wiggly are still there and still whole.   -- PCA

No comments: