One of them used the end of fishing pole to poke at turtles sunning themselves on a rock. When I took out my camera to take photos, he stopped. Even the turtles are not left in peace at Central Park these days.
But, that was not the worst of it.
Wiggly (domestic duck) and Romeo (mallard drake) were chased from their usual spot by fishermen and there is now a mallard drake with a broken wing at the east end of the Meer.
As soon as I arrived home yesterday, I called a Park Ranger to report the mallard with the broken wing.
She told me someone at the Dana Discovery Center (located at the Meer) had reported the injured mallard the day before but she could not find it.
This is strange considering there are few mallards at Harlem Meer these days and they all stay mostly to the east side of lake where there are not too many fishermen (although the fishers go all over). The mallard with the busted wing is fairly easy to spot.
I asked how a mallard breaks a wing in Central Park?
The ranger told me, "They sometimes fly into trees."
Funny, how the mallards don't "fly into trees" and break wings and legs in the winter time, isn't it?
I then complained about some kids throwing rocks at ducks and the fisherman poking at the turtles with the fishing pole.
"Well, people have a right to use the park....."
"People DON'T have the right to torment the wildlife in the park!!" I yelled.
This was not a pleasant conversation.
The ranger did agree that there is much abuse in the park and assured me she admonishes people breaking rules, but I can't say that I necessarily believe her.
I then called a supervisor with Central Park Conservancy to complain about the all of the above and he assured me he would get help for the injured mallard and assign more patrols to Harlem Meer during the day to monitor.
I requested "No Harassment of Wildlife" signs, but it remains to be seen if that will ever happen.
Central Park is truly disconcerting and a bit dangerous this time of year. Yesterday, for example, there were several police cars on the East Park Drive after a pedestrian trying to cross the intersection was struck and apparently injured by a speeding cyclist.
But, still I worry for the six domestic (flightless) ducks at Harlem Meer. Four of the domestics stay all the time now behind the small fenced "No Fishing" area by the Dana Center. Apparently, they can read signs, but I don't think that will necessarily keep them safe through the spring and summer. Too much bad stuff happening almost all the time at the Meer now.
As side note to all this, apparently people not only dump domestic ducks in our parks, but also "predatory fish" into lakes. Note in photo above, the new signs posted at Harlem Meer about "Northern Snakehead fish."
If invasive, "Northern Snakehead" fish are at Harlem Meer, they were surely dumped there by fishermen who want to establish a population to relentlessly torment (like the rest of the wildlife at the Meer). For sure, the snakehead fish didn't fly into Harlem Meer or walk there.
Personally, (unlike the NY Times article above that glorifies fishing at Harlem Meer) I am sick of seeing waterfowl crippled by fishing line, turtles caught on hooks or prodded by fishermen when trying to sun themselves on a rock and kids throwing rocks at birds.
I know of bird lovers who tell me they avoid Harlem Meer because of all the fishing and general wildlife harassment there.
A few weeks ago, the swan (Hector) who had been at the Meer all winter flew away because it has become so inhospitable to wildlife.
According to the park ranger, the swan was likely dumped at the Meer last November with the four domestic ducks. But, I am quite sure that is not reality. Hector flew into the Meer on his own accord as things were relatively peaceful in November with no fishing and scant human activity. He was able to fly in then as he was able to fly out now due to all the added human-created stress.
Presently, there are only a few ducks and geese at the Meer. As noted, one of the mallards has a broken wing and six of the ducks are domestic and unable to fly and escape.
Wildlife literally has no place to go anymore where it can be safe from human taunting and destruction.
Even Central Park, in the spring and summer, becomes little more than a greener version of Times Square replete with everything from marching bands to fireworks.
How I so long for the peace and safe sanctuary of winter again. -- PCA