Rangers wrangle hundreds of critters in New York city parks


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Rangers wrangle hundreds of critters in New York city parks - Record Numbers of Animals in Central Park Alone-274 Raccoons, Birds Snappers and red-eared sliders.
By Melissa Klein
September 21, 2019 NY Post
(From reports from readers of HD, this menagerie of animals in city parks is not uncommon across the US. Especially red-eared sliders.)

It’s an urban jungle out there.
Park rangers handled 748 sick, misplaced or dead animals spotted in city parks — ranging from 451 raccoons to four coyotes to one Dutch blue love bird, according to city data from May 2, 2018, to June 12, 2019.

The critters range from the everyday city pigeons and domestic dogs and cats to an alligator snapping turtle in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and a harbor seal found dead on Staten Island.

Central Park logged the most wildlife reports, with 274 birds, turtles and raccoons — many of which suffered from the canine distemper virus that makes them act like zombies.

Across the city, 155 critters were considered healthy, 451 unhealthy or injured and 104 dead on arrival. Conditions were not known for all.

The urban park rangers respond to calls from the public, park employees or others who have spotted an animal that looks sick or out of place. Sometimes the animal has wandered away by the time they arrive — 232 animal reports were deemed “unfounded,” including one for a boa constrictor someone claimed to have spotted in Morningside Park.

The rangers determine if the animal needs to be rescued or left alone.

“Often we believe the best thing for the animal is to not interfere, and we generally only escalate to a rescue if the animal appears injured or sick,” said Meghan Lalor, a Parks Department spokeswoman.

The city sometimes calls in wildlife rehabilitators like Long Island-based Bobby Horvath.

“Squirrels, woodchucks, opossums, even a beaver,” Horvath said. “We’ve had snapping turtles, too.” Some go to a vet, but Horvarth said he does the long-term care at his home. When healthy, they are driven back to a city park.

The nonprofit Wild Bird Fund has also answered the call for injured or abandoned animals, including many young squirrels, said Rita McMahon, the group’s director
“They’re scrambling about before they’re ready to be on their own,” McMahon said. “They will sometimes fall. They smash their face … mostly they just get a bloody nose.”

Domestic ducks — likely discarded pets — usually go to an upstate farm.

“They live in a glorious barn that’s heated in the winter … It’s a very nice set-up,” McMahon said

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