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Hawk Watchers Concerned With Poison Near Riverside Park Nest

By Leslie Albrecht | July 5, 2011 7:23am | Updated on July 5, 2011 7:08am

By Leslie Albrecht

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER WEST SIDE — Just two months after rat poison killed the patriarch of Riverside Park's red-tailed hawk brood, a Parks Department exterminator accidentally left more deadly bait near the raptor family's nest.

Although the department has officially stopped using rat poison in the park, an exterminator who wasn't aware of the new policy laid it close to the hawks' nest near the 79th Street Boat Basin, a department spokesman said.

After members of the public alerted officials Wednesday night, it was removed on Thursday morning, the spokesman said.

Hawk watchers have been livid about the Parks Department's handling of rat control near hawk nests ever since Riverside Park's hawk father died in April.

The department spokesman said an analysis of the dead hawk showed that the toxins that killed him weren't the type used by the Parks Department — but officials ordered changes in the rat control policy.

Hawk watcher Pamela Langford said she spotted signs warning the poison had been laid on the north side of the park's West 79th Street entrance Wednesday. She emailed Riverside Park Administrator John Herrold, who responded within hours, she said.

"The Parks Department was very responsive," Langford said. "It was really impressive."

Langford said she was initially "horrified" that the poison was back.

"The two young hawks are learning to hunt," she said.

"They could easily catch a rat that had been poisoned."

The papa hawk's death in April left his mate alone to raise two young hatchlings. With help from humans who left out food for the mother and her babies, the single mom kept her offspring fed and safe from the elements.

Now her two young ones are thriving and will spend the summer learning how to hunt, Langford said.

"It was a beautiful thing to watch the single mom, and to see that humans could help her and that humans could make up for the tragedy that humans had caused," Langford said.