Poison-free rat traps, Rosie and Bobby at sunset - January 31st, 2014

One of the NYU flag poles having a bad day:

I noticed new labels on the rat traps in Washington Square Park today.


I checked and these labels were on several of the traps around me.

As relieved as I was to see them, I did not chalk the new labels up to my or others' efforts to change park administrator Sarah Neilson's mind about the danger the poison bait stations posed to Rosie and Bobby. 

Instead, I knew the park planned to revert to the snap traps by the first week of February (in advance of the Hawks' breeding season) anyway. This has historically been the policy. 

And, as Sarah Neilson wrote to me on September 26th, "We are attentive to wildlife issues in parks and change rodent control methods accordingly. When we see a breeding pair of hawks inside a park or in close proximity to one, we suspend all baiting from the beginning to the end of fledgling season. Fledgling season usually begins in February when breeding hawks begin to build their nest. We then suspend baiting until after the young hawks fledge the nest in late August."

From her email, it seems that Parks follows what I've already railed against as an illogical baiting policy (one endorsed by NYC Audubon) that rodenticide should only be used between the months of September through February. The logic seems to be that the eggs and Hawk babies should be protected between March and August but that it's ok to risk killing the Hawk parents when they're not in the breeding season (even if they live in the park year-round).


I noticed a box of bait station-related product on a lawn at the eastern side of the park. It was unattended that moment:

I then looked for the Hawks at the western side of the park. I saw a contractor walking about with some of the new rat traps.

I approached him as he was setting up one of the traps and asked if his was a snap trap and if it was replacing a poison one. He said yes and that the way it works is he opens the trap, lays down a scented attractant, inserts the snap, then shuts the unit. He demonstrated how he applies the attractant for me. I asked if I could take a photo of the set up and he said, "Sure!"

The snap is the smaller object between the two shells:

I asked if today was the first day of the trap switching and he said no, that they've been replacing the poison units with the snap ones since last Wednesday.

Back at it:

His colleague:

Unfortunately, there were plenty of garbage cans around the park with its lids dangling to the side (a perfect invitation for rats to climb in and gather food):

I saw Rosie and Bobby at once an hour after I arrived at the park.

They were seated atop NYU's Silver Center, facing the park.

Rosie on the flag, Bobby on the railing below her:

Bobby flew south out of the park after five minutes:

Rosie watched him the followed him after a few seconds:

I had a hunch they might have flown to the NYU housing water towers at east 3rd Street so off I went.

Rosie was there, overlooking the courtyard below her:

I glimpsed Bobby flying further west but did not follow him since I wanted to keep an eye on Rosie.

She then flew to another tower further west (Bobst Library on the right):

Rosie flew west again. I lost sight of her. 

I returned to the park.

Bobby flew to the Red Roost Inn twenty three minutes later:

I waited at the roost for another twenty minutes in the hopes that Rosie would join him but she did not.

The city rolling along as usual below Bobby: