Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New York Times article

The following is from an article that was just published in the New York Times:

Dogs on the Trail, Even on a Leash, Give Birds a Fright

By Henry Fountain

Published: September 11, 2007

Dog walking: good for you, good for your pet. Not so good for birds, apparently.

Australian researchers have found that walking leashed dogs along woodland paths leads to a significant reduction in the number and diversity of birds in the area, at least over the short term.

Peter B. Banks and Jessica V. Bryant of the University of New South Wales surveyed birds along woodland trails near Sydney shortly after dogs were walked on them or after people walked alone. All kinds of dogs were involved, big and small, purebred and mutt. As a control, they also surveyed birds on trails that no one, human or canine, had recently walked on.

Dr. Banks said the study was an outgrowth of his interest in predator-prey interactions. “Here you have a predator that is being walked through the bush quite regularly, ” he said.

The researchers chose trails in places where dogs were banned and in other areas where dog walking was common, expecting different results in each. “We thought that where there was regular dog walking birds would get used to it, ” Dr. Banks said. “Well, they didn’t. ”

Regardless of the type of area, dog walking led to a 35 percent reduction in the number of bird species and a 41 percent reduction in overall bird numbers, compared with the control. (People walking alone caused some disturbance, but less than half that caused by people with dogs.)

The study, published in Biology Letters, provides support for park managers and others on the same side of what can be a heated debate over dogs in natural areas.

“The problem is there are other uses for an area” besides dog walking, said Dr. Banks, who described himself as “not a dog hater. ” “If dogs walk throughout an area, you’re just not going to get the same bird-watching experience or ecotourism experience. ”

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Crime up in city parks

I thought that the unleashed dogs were supposed to eliminate crime? This is from NY1:

NYPD Says Crime Is On The Rise In City Parks

Crime in city parks is on the rise, according to figured released by the NYPD Sunday.

The department looked at figures in 20 parks and found 68 crimes reported during the second quarter of the year. That's compared to 48 last year.

Thirty of the crimes were grand larcenies, or property that was taken when left unattended. There were no murders in the parks during that period, police say.

Flushing Meadows Park had the highest number of crimes, 21, followed by Prospect and Bronx Parks.

Crime citywide is down seven percent compared to 2006.

Self-centered, lunatic fringe "win" again

The following article is from The New York Times:

Dispatches The Gardens of Bruised Feelings By Jake Mooney
September 9, 2007

IN 27 years as a federal prosecutor, Ruth Nordenbrook faced down such formidable foes as the reputed Bonanno family boss Joseph Massino and his onetime underling Vincent Basciano, a k a Vinny Gorgeous. But Ms. Nordenbrook, who is 62 and who retired in 2005, may have finally met the adversaries persistent enough to wear her down. They typically stand one or two feet tall, and have damp noses and names like Roxy and Geo.

They are the dogs belonging to Ms. Nordenbrook’s neighbors in the Fulton Ferry Landing area of Brooklyn, and they are in the middle of a struggle between pet owners and community groups over a series of traffic islands at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Ms. Nordenbrook, who along with a few other volunteers maintained flower beds on the islands for more than a decade, notified her neighbors this spring that she was quitting, complaining that local dogs’ use of the land as a chamber pot was making it too hard to continue the work. Her resignation was reported in The Brooklyn Paper.

No replacement gardeners have yet emerged, the beds are tangled and overgrown, people still walk their dogs on the islands, and the Fulton Ferry Landing Association, a neighborhood group, is preparing to ask for city help.

On a sunny afternoon last week, Ms. Nordenbrook stood by the one small patch that she is still tending and announced that she remains resolute about giving up the rest of the gardens.

“I’m sorry to see it that way,” she said, “but I don’t miss the aggravation.” In fact, she finds the break calming. “I can even now see people walking down there with their dogs, and I don’t start foaming at the mouth.”

Some of her neighbors are less sanguine. “That has been the labor of a few totally dedicated residents to maintain the area,” said Katrin Adam, a board member of the Fulton Ferry Landing Association. “If you have people in the area who are willing to take these things on, to be disrespected by dog owners is a terrible thing.”

Ms. Adam said her group plans to meet this month to discuss options like putting low fences around the flower beds or seeking maintenance help from the city’s Parks Department. Exactly who has jurisdiction over the traffic islands, however, is complicated. The spaces were created in the 1990s when the state’s Department of Transportation overhauled the bridge’s off-ramp, but at the time the neighborhood group agreed to maintain them.

Things went along smoothly for years, Ms. Adam said, but with the population of the nearby Dumbo neighborhood swelling, the area is home to more pets than ever. Many are escorted to the traffic islands, and many stop to relieve themselves there.

Last spring came a series of confrontations involving both professional dog walkers and area residents who were walking their dogs themselves. Ms. Nordenbrook admitted that she uttered some unkind words, and said that people generally responded by informing her that they were on public property, in a free country, and she should mind her own business.

One of those people was James Lewis, who lives in a co-op across the street from the traffic islands and regularly walks through the area with the aforementioned Roxy and Geo, a miniature dachshund and a Boston terrier.

Mr. Lewis, as it happened, was passing through the abandoned flower beds last week just as Ms. Nordenbrook was recalling their first tense meeting. This time, the two exchanged polite, if sheepish, greetings; they buried the hatchet some time ago, Mr. Lewis said, and his dogs now relieve themselves in a different area. Once everyone cooled off, he said, the way to solve the problem was easy.

Thinking back on the dispute, Mr. Lewis said: “I don’t even know if it really has anything to do with pets. I think people’s reactions in a lot of situations have to do with who’s in control, and ‘What are my rights?’ rather than ‘What are another person’s feelings?’ ”

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Rabies isn't funny

The following was posted on the blog "The Gowanus Lounge":

Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Why Brooklyn is Better: Aggressive Geese & Attacking Raccoons

This email caught our attention for two reasons: A Prospect Park raccoon biting someone and "very aggressive" ducks and geese. Here's what it says:

My family and I were feeding the ducks & geese yesterday afternoon at the lake near the Vanderbilt entrance (something we won't do again because they got very aggressive) and saw a raccoon moseying around in plain sight. I was disturbed that people were not moving away from it and was explaining to my son that there must be something wrong with the animal if it dares to walk around where people were. At the time it was crossing under a log where a woman was sitting with her family. I turned away momentarily, when the woman starts screaming, jumps up and I see the husband pulling the animal off her. The raccoon had bitten her on her upper thigh.

Later I spoke with a fellow who was closer to the incident and he told me that the police had arrived shortly after we left and that he had urged the woman to go to the hospital.

Ah, urban nature.

posted by rsguskind at 8:10 AM


Anonymous said...

I live in Forest Hills, North of Queens Blvd. Racoons are pretty common around here, but they rarely walk around in daylight... you can see them crossing the street at night sometimes.

If the racoon was walking in daylight, around people, and bit a woman, odds are the racoon was rabid.

If I was that woman, I would go get rabies shots. 10:12 AM

Anonymous said...

we used to have raccoons all the time in norwalk connecticut but rabies damn near wiped them out. Sounds like it moved to the city finally. 10:31 AM

icky said...

Imagine, wild animals out in nature. How offensive that must have been for those poor people.

Okay, okay. The racoon probably had something wrong with it and for that I sympathise. (I got chased and bit by a crazy squirrel once.) Wouldn't want anyone to get sick. But, they're not people, ya know. They are not "trained." They're not even pets. They're wild animals. You wanted nature? You got it. Besides, the picture of someone being chased by a goose is funny no matter who is involved. 10:59 AM

icky said:

Besides, the picture of someone being chased by a goose is funny no matter who is involved.Man...LOL I have to agree with you on that 1:20 PM

hellx said...

At this rate, pretty soon we're going to see stories like this onecoming out of Williamsburg. 1:54 PM

Anonymous said...

For several years, The Center for Disease Control, New York State's department of health and NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have been "alerting" the public about the sharp increase in incidents of rabies in NYC. Just do a search for "Rabies AND "New York City"". Ignoring the obvious could cause that woman her life.

It also makes me wonder why the health department thinks it's a good idea to unleash dogs in city parks. Population control? 5:11 PM