Within the last few weeks there have been four dead Red-tailed Hawks found on the Upper West Side: three in Central Park, and one in Riverside Park. The hawks were:
- A juvenile that was in the North Woods of Central Park
- Lima, Pale Male's mate of a year
- An older hawk in the SE corner of Central Park
- The female of the Boat Basin nest in Riverside Park
While necropsy results are still pending, the likelihood that rodenticides were the cause of death is an urban reality.
As hawks have made a comeback in New York City over the last twenty years, we're seeing the issues hawks face living in the Big Apple.
I know from personal experience that we have lots of allies in this effort, including the Parks Department, the Central Park Conservancy, the Department of Health, NYC Audubon, and others. While we figure out how to turn our anger over these deaths into action, we need to be careful not to attack our allies.
This is an incredibly complex issue. A few hundreds raptors in New York City aren't going to limit the rat populations. Controlling rat infestations utilizing methods that have the least potential for negative impact on wildlife is going to take years of incremental change. We'll need the help of all our allies as we tackle long term issues, such as improving sanitation and reducing poison usage.
It isn't publicized enough, but behind the scenes, there are many people working to protect raptors in the city. So, rather than attacking our friends over these deaths, we should approach the Riverside and Central Park staff, not with the question "Why did you kill our hawks?", but with the questions "How can I help you protect our hawks? And what support do you need from me?"