By order of Ralph Musolino of the Parks Department, the Washington Square Park rat bait boxes were removed today!
Here's how I came to discover that it was indeed Ralph who had ordered the rat bait boxes removed.
While looking for Rosie and Bobby after work today, I went first to the location of the bait box on the west side of the park. I was shocked when I saw the box was gone and only a bit of freshly-moved dirt and the little orange flag was there.
I had to wonder if the box was stolen by one of the rat poison protestors, removed by the Parks Department, or moved to a more secret location by Parks.
I moved on to the location of the second box on the south side of the park, checking bushes and low plants along the way in case a box was hidden in a new place.
I saw no box at the second location! I tried to take a photo of the now empty lawn where the box had been but a guy talking on his cell phone blocked my view so I moved on to try to find the third box on the east side of the park.
I searched for a Park worker to ask about the boxes. I found someone to ask (who I'll not identify so that the person won't get into trouble for talking with me about the issue; you just never know).
I said hello and introduced myself as one of the people who photograph the Hawks. I said there used to be rat bait boxes and that I didn't see them today and wondered where they might be, if they were removed. The worker said yes, they were ordered removed today. I asked if they were just moved to a different location or if they were removed entirely. The answer was yes, entirely. I then asked if it was Ralph who gave that order. The response was yes. The person added that it was "Because a lady was complaining about them". Ha!
The person said they weren't sure why the lady complained and I responded that well, it's because the Hawks could die if they ate the poisoned rats and that the Hawks were federally-protected. The person said that made sense. I then asked if the boxes would ever get replaced and the person responded maybe some time in the future. In all fairness I think this was just a guess on the part of the worker and that there is no true plan to return the boxes, if ever, in the near or distant future while Red-tailed Hawks are present in the park.
Well! We did it, ladies and gentlemen! Thanks to everyone in all the various anti-poison campaigns (and all the individuals acting on their own) who sent emails and made calls, the rat bait boxes have been removed!
Of course, I'll be constantly checking for any sign of the boxes or other forms of rat bait each time I visit the park but for now I think we should all rejoice in this little victory and thank Ralph Musolino (Ralph.Musolino@parks.nyc.gov) for removing the boxes.
I did not see Rosie or Bobby during my visit to the park but in a way I was glad not to since any freshly-poisoned rat still poses a danger for them over the next few days and I hope they are finding meals in a safe location for now!