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.

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