Saturday, 14 April 2012

In Mystery of Hawk Deaths, Rat Poison Emerges

It had the makings of an avian mystery, albeit almost the opposite of that Hitchcockian one. Two red-tailed hawks were found dead, one in Central Park, one just outside. A third died 24 hours after being taken out of the park and sent to a wildlife rehabilitator because concerned park rangers could see that it was “not acting right.”

Was it a whodunit? No, birders said on Wednesday, it was a whatdunit.
The results of necropsies on the three birds are in, and the culprit was not some predator in the park — not a cat stalking a snack, for example. Toxicology tests showed that all three hawks had died with rat poison in their systems.
That was just what some birdwatchers had suspected. One, Lincoln Karim, a wildlife photographer who was arrested after he kept one of the dead hawks in his apartment overnight, has maintained that the Central Park Conservancy applied rat poison in the park.
On Wednesday, a parks department spokesman acknowledged that until last June the conservancy had indeed used rat poison. But now the group uses snap traps in tamper-proof boxes that look like bait stations.

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