Squirrel lovers around New York City’s Washington Square Park say there is a killer on the loose. A woman is letting her two big dogs kill squirrels. Everyone from the wildlife rehabilitator community to dog people, Bernie Goetz (subway vigilante/squirrel lover) to Parks Enforcement Police is now on the lookout for the willowy brunette and her dogs.
At least five squirrels have been killed so far in front of Greenwich Village park goers and one turned up with broken legs. Area squirrel lovers think her name is Lena, that she lives on Barrow Street (someone followed her home), visits the park at 8 and 5 and has two dogs, a German shepherd and a shepherd mix.
“As I walking through the park, I came upon people gathered around a dying young squirrel,” said a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator who treated two of the injured squirrels. “[The] chess players saw the dog attack. The woman and dog had just left the park.”
One squirrel with two broken legs was found near the Hangman’s Tree and taken to a veterinarian that specializes in wildlife. “He has two broken legs, which Dr. [Anthony] Pilny set. “With luck, he’ll have use of at least three, but is going to have a hard recovery.”
Killing or hunting wildlife in city parks is illegal, but very hard to catch. The fine is $1,000. Park managers know about the problem, as does Parks Enforcement Police. The problem is that the PEP officers are the ones to make arrests, but there aren’t enough of them to patrol the small parks. “Lena’s dogs kill so fast no one could possibly stop them before more squirrels die,” says the rehabber. But park officials say that if someone sees her call 212-387-7676. If they could get her to just stop letting her dogs kill squirrels I think it would be a victory.
I’ve been on both sides of the dog-squirrel war. My dog Jolly desperately wanted to eat squirrels. I would let him stare, follow and imagine how delicious the squirrels might be. But he was always on a leash and under my control. Part of why I got into wildlife rehabilitation was to make it up to the squirrels we doubtless scared. Jolly was a very special dog and he loved just watching the baby squirrels I cared for. Yes, he was probably imagining them as squirrel veal, but he held back and just stared.
If you’ve got any dog sense, you can let your dog enjoy watching squirrels without killing one of the few wild animals to thrive in Manhattan.
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