Archive for April, 2017


Patch.com, April 21st, 2017

FULL TEXT:

LOWER EAST SIDE, NY — A red-tailed hawk died earlier this year after eating a rat that had ingested rat poison, according to the New York Daily News.

The hawk is believed to have eaten a rat poisoned in a New York City park. Bird advocates have repeatedly condemned the city’s use of rodenticide, which can be toxic for hawks and other animals. Birds of prey in urban areas, like the substantial red-tailed hawk population in New York City, often hunt rats for food. Rats that have ingested rodenticide can then poison hawks second-hand.

The Daily News reported on Thursday that a sick hawk was found in January in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side. The hawk was treated by Dr. Katherine Quesenberry, a staff doctor at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.

"This particular bird was extremely anemic, as they usually are when they’ve ingested toxins," Quesenberry said. "That’s why it was so easy to catch; they’re so weak they can’t fly."

The hawk was given a blood-transfusion but was too anemic for the transfusion to work, Quesenberry, an exotic bird and animal specialist, told Patch. The bird’s necropsy — an autopsy for animals — showed that it died after it ingested an anti-coagulant rodenticide, according to the New York Daily News. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation was not immediately able to provide a copy of the necropsy to Patch on Thursday.

The hawk that died in January is one of dozens of known cases of New York City in which rodenticide has been linked to a bird’s death. Lima, the former partner of the beloved Central Park hawk Pale Male, was found dead in 2012. A necropsy found small amounts of the chemical components of rat poison in the bird’s liver.

Quesenberry, who has worked as a vet in New York City for more than 30 years, said each year she typically treats between two and three hawks who have ingested rat poison. Just one poisoned rat can be enough to cause a hawk to fall ill or even die, depending on how much poison the rat has ingested, she said.

"From a veterinary standpoint, you have to think about the type of rodenticides because they can be toxic to other species," she said. "In New York City it’s hard to say ‘don’t use them,’ but unfortunately it’s a toxicity that can happen. It doesn’t just affect the one species."

The city’s parks department doesn’t use rodenticide in city parks during the hawks’ breeding season, between March and August.

"It’s good that they’re not using it during the breeding season, but any time they’re in use it happen," Quesenberry said of inadvertent hawk poisoning.

A spokesman for NYC Audubon told Patch that the group wasn’t aware of a hawk nest at Sara D. Roosevelt park and learned about the bird’s death after the fact. Audubon tracks raptor nesting locations that are reported to it.

"It is very unfortunate and sad," the spokesman said in an email to Patch. "It is true that rodenticide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among urban raptors such as red-tailed hawks. We advocate against the use of rodenticides in all places in the City, especially parks."

City parks department officials say they know of about 20 pairs of nesting hawks throughout New York City.

PROTECT STATE WATERBODIES

DEC ENCOURAGES HOMEOWNERS TO PRACTICE SUSTAINABLE LAWN CARE TO PROTECT STATE WATERBODIES

DEC launches “Look for the Zero” campaign to urge homeowners to purchase phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer

To protect water quality this spring, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today is urging New Yorkers to practice sustainable lawn care by going phosphorus free, using native plants and grasses, and reducing fertilizer use. DEC has launched the “Look for the Zero” campaign to encourage New Yorkers to purchase phosphorus-free lawn fertilizer, as more than 100 water bodies in New York State cannot be used or enjoyed as a result of too much phosphorus.

"The actions New Yorkers take in their backyards can have a big impact on the environment. By choosing sustainable lawn care, homeowners are helping protect water quality and public health,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Excess phosphorous is causing problems in many New York waterbodies, making them unusable for swimming, fishing, or as a source of drinking water. I urge residents to ‘look for the zero’ and buy phosphorous-free fertilizer this spring. By eliminating phosphorus and reducing pesticide use on lawns, New Yorkers can play an important role in addressing water quality impairments across the state."

New York’s nutrient runoff law prohibits the use of phosphorus lawn fertilizers unless a new lawn is being established or a soil test shows that the lawn does not have enough phosphorus.

Generally, only newly established lawns or those with poor soil need phosphorus. Phosphorus applied to lawns that don’t need it will not be used and can cause water pollution. Regardless of the location, excess phosphorus from lawns can wash off and pollute lakes and streams, harming fish and ruining boating and swimming.

Consumers should review bag labels for phosphorus content when shopping for fertilizer. Fertilizer labels have three bold numbers. The number in the middle is the percentage of phosphorus in the product, such as: 22-0-15. The state’s law requires retailers to display phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus-free fertilizer and post signs notifying customers of the terms of the law.

Homeowners have several options to practice more sustainable lawn care. DEC encourages homeowners to choose native plants and grasses, which are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions. These plant species provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals.

Organic lawn care can easily be implemented on any lawn. Safe and effective alternatives exist for most chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic lawn care treatments promote deep root systems, natural photosynthesis, and longer grass growth. Visit the DEC sustainable landscaping page to learn more LINKY.

Additional recommendations for sustainable lawn care include spreading a quarter inch of compost on the lawn to improve moisture retention and soil texture and add beneficial microorganisms and nutrients. Another suggestion is to allow grass to grow to three inches and then cut no more than one inch off the top. This is the "one-third" rule and helps to develop a deeper root system, which is a natural defense against weeds, disease and drought. Visit DEC’s Lawn Care web page for more information.

DEC also encourages homeowners to leave lawn clippings on the yard in order to improve the health of the lawn. Grass clippings are 80 percent water and contain 2- 4 percent nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients. Leaving clippings also saves homeowners time while mowing and reduces the amount of garbage thrown out. Grass clippings can account for as much as 10 percent of garbage.

DEC has posted a new video (WATCH HERE) to its YouTube channel that shows how phosphorus and other chemicals can run off lawns and enter our waterways. For more information, visit DEC’s Lawn Fertilizer webpage at LINKY.

The nutrient runoff law does not affect agricultural fertilizer or fertilizer for gardens.

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