Letters August 2012

August 4, 2012

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

Re: Rat Poison, Palemale, Justice, the Right Thing To Do

As the Mayor of the City where I was born and raised I am appealing to you to do something about the situation in Central Park and the surrounding area museums (including, ironically, the Museum of Natural History) concerning the placement of rat poison. I imagine you are aware of the current events in the Park and I hope you are aware of the website that has been established for many years and has many, many followers world-wide, namely www.palemale.com. In the event that you are not aware I will briefly describe what has transpired over the years and what is going on right now.
Palemale is a red tail hawk who was in the news years ago when his nest was destroyed at 537 Park Avenue due to the intolerance of some of the residents in that building. . (I may have that number incorrect but it is the building where some famous people live including Mary Tyler Moore who was a huge supporter of Palemale.) This destruction caused a public outcry (again world-wide) as most human beings with any sense of responsibility towards our wildlife felt that destruction of the nest was not acceptable. Palemale had lived there for many years and raised many babies with his mate Lola. It was a delight for most residents of the City, visitors to the Park and for many, many people outside of the City who visited the website, to have been given the opportunity to enjoy such a special wild creature.
An extremely talented photographer, Lincoln Karim, started the website and has posted for many years now his photographic documentation of Palemale's life, including all the strife of having his nest destroyed, to the various mates he settled down with. Lincoln also documented other wildlife, particularly other red tail hawks who were living in other areas of the City. Whenever there are any newsworthy items to bring to the public's attention we can all count on Lincoln to inform and educate us.
The subject of rat poison is not a new one. Palemale and Lola tried for many years after the nest was finally reinstated to raise a family without success. It was very painful for all of us to watch. There was no way to understand all those years what was wrong. Suddenly, Lola disappeared. It did not take long as nature works for a new female to appear and take interest in Palemale. It has been suggested that Lola's continued diet of poisoned rats contributed to her becoming infertile. However, to shorten this story, Palemale's newest mate after Lola was found deceased. It was determined that she died from living on a diet of rats, who had ingested poison in their neighborhood. She was new to the area and did not have the resistance Lola seems to have been able to build up, to a point. There is a pair of nesting red tail hawks in Riverside Park as well. I believe it was two years their babies were playing and doing so well (again, more wonderful pictures from Lincoln). Suddenly, they too were found dead as a result of being fed poisoned rats by their unknowing parents (confirmed by tests).
Back to Palemale and 2012. He did find yet another mate after losing his previous one to rat poison (which was determined when her body was examined). Palemale is finally enjoying raising a family again. Fans of Palemale have waited through years of unsuccessful nesting attempts. Lincoln has now alerted all of his followers that this year's babies are showing signs of sickness, and it has been determined that the cause is once again rat poison. Two of the three chicks are currently in rehab and I do not know the status of their health. It is through the efforts of Bobby and Cathy Horvath, wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators that there is any hope of these babies recovering.
Lincoln has stopped posting photographs and further information on his website in protest and frustration of the ongoing use of rat poison. He has also removed all the invaluable history from his website that contained many years' worth of accumulated information and photographs. He has tried for years to garner some cooperation with the DEC and Central Park authorities to do something about the placement (removal) of rat poison and has been assured all kinds of rhetoric that have proved to be false or misleading. The fact remains the red tail hawks will hunt rats, and rats will eat poison if baits are placed in their path and the poison is still being used. A truly horrific subtext to this issue is the absolutely cruel death the rats endure. There must be another solution. Rats are lured to the baiting stations that are placed right next to garbage dumps, which attract the rats to begin with. Does it not seem to you to be an unduly cruel way to deal with the problem? I personally would not like to live with rats, but they are part of nature and one thing they do is get attracted to garbage. To lure them with a dumpster and then offer them poison for doing what they do naturally is simply not acceptable – especially considering the brutal death they face. The problem starts with all the garbage. And of course, as the rats are digesting the poison and becoming sicker and weaker, they are easier prey for the hawks than they would be.
I realize you have many issues to deal with in New York. I do not have a solution to dealing with garbage on such a huge scale.
However, I am hoping you can address this very urgent problem. The hawk babies need your help. Palemale needs your help. Lincoln and all of his world-wide fans need your help. The people responsible for the baiting stations are denying any wrong doing and are simply continuing to practice what has proved to be deadly for our precious wildlife of New York City.
Please visit the website to see Lincoln's current contact information for people he has tried to get some support from – without any success, and for the good people who are helping at the rehab facility.

Thank you for your time,
Zoë B.


I wrote to both the AMNH and the Met a couple of weeks ago (one by email the other regular) and needless to say have heard zilch. With the former I even suggested that they could be picketed the same way that the Fifth Ave building was after the coop board removed the nest. (I still think that might be a good idea).
As an experiment, I designed a flyer, headed "Rat Poison Is Killing Our Red-tailed Hawks" complete with a watercolor painting of a dead hawk (I based it on your photo of Lima; I hope you don't mind) and traveled up to the West side near the museum and tried to pass out flyers to anyone who did not look like a tourist. The flyer was not gory and did not mention any institution by name. I was very polite and I am a very inoffensive-looking looking older woman; I asked people "would you please take one?" and held out a flyer. Most people, also politely, said "no thank you". A few did accept it. The flyer suggested that they not support any institution or organization that used poison on its properties. But it was a discouraging experience. People just don't care, plain and simple.
I do think picketing the Museums might be a good idea.
My past experience with writing to the Parks people has resulted in rational responses from that quarter, despite the fact that my last letter to Mr. Benape regarding all the trees cut down in Isham and Inwood last spring was positively insulting :)) In return I got a very polite email explaining why it was done and suggesting that perhaps they had made an error in not explaining and detailing their intentions more fully with the community.
In the meantime I send prayers to St. Jude (patron of things almost despaired of).

Be well,
Ann Feldman


I wrote to you when Lima died and you wrote back to me with a very sweet email.
I want to thank you for all your beautiful photos, which I will miss deeply, but I do understand.

I want to say how glad I am that you continue to post photos of the awful poisons in Central Park, as without those, we might think they are gone (I no longer live in NYC).
I think the problem is bigger than the MET or The Museum of Natural History. There are also so many residential buildings putting out rat poison. These poisons need to be illegal. When the insecticide, DDT, was legal, it almost wiped out the Bald Eagle, among many other species. Once it was illegal, these populations started their slow recovery.
We need to get the current poisons outlawed. And not just in NYC.
As an aside, I have no faith in Senator Gillibrand. I wrote to her when she caused the round up of the Canadian Geese near the airport, and had them shipped to slaughter (they were helpless as they were molting and could not fly). I sent her the Human Society's position against this (they will just repopulate. It is like the rats. If you kill one, the survivors will breed more). In the case of the Geese, as I remember, the Human Society said you have to make the area unattractive. This is so similar to the need to keep the park clean. A clean park is not attractive to rats. I never got a response from Sen. Gillibrand.
Personally, this is so depressing. But as long as these poisons are legal, some one will put them out. If they are illegal, people will be forced to keep their areas clean to avoid rats.

My best wishes to you.

Tiffany P.


I care about animals and the environment much more than mankind and do send my emails continually to those who could change policies. I love Palemale and all the other hawks and always fear they will succumb to the horrible laziness and callousness of people. I am on your side and am not one of those who complains but doesn't add their voice for those who cannot speak. As a wildlife rehabber specializing in birds only I see everyday those who complain and walk out the door to never think about their complaint again. Mankind is the laziest most malicious life form on the beautiful planet.
I WILL always speak for those who can't, factory farm animals, wildlife, discarded abused pets, all of them.

I will miss your incredible photos but fully understand your stand. Apathy exists all around the few of us who take a stand.
I know you probably can't read all of the emails you get or respond to them but I hope you read mine and know that I take action. You are not alone.

Beth M.


Dear Lincoln,
I have written to you before and consider you one of those great men you are searching for. However, I must respectfully tell you that I think you are making a terrible mistake in not posting pictures any longer. People are already starting to organize to try to do something. Petitions are being signed, etc..
You have to realize that the old adage of "out of sight - out of mind" still holds true. As much as the majority of people DO love these animals - they still have busy lives and most do not have your drive or constitution. If they do not see Pale Male and have the horror "in their face" so to speak - he will soon be forgotten and nothing will be accomplished at all.

Your photos that show us inside these creatures souls are the ONLY things that will keep a connection and motivate people to help. By removing them - you will be removing the impetus for 99% of your followers to fight for this cause. I beg you to reconsider. I am aware of other sights that show pictures of Pale Male and give info but none do so with the depth of feeling and love and connection that you do. It was your photos that caused people to save his nest and it will be the connection you keep and the motivation you give that will win this battle too. Your words are amazing and though provoking but it is ultimately your photos that make us love them so. Please think long and hard about reconsidering this move.
Thank you,
Debbie J. ( a loyal friend).


I don't think many, if anyone, can understand your deep love of the creatures of this earth and Pale Male. I have grown to love them from afar, as many have. Your photographs capturing the detail of every natural thing that manages to exist in the island oasis in NYC called Central Park have caused so many, I have no idea how to count them, to grow to love and appreciate also. I do not think you understand how many people start or and/end their days with your beautiful glimpses of the natrual beauty around us. It gives perspective and sometimes hope.
Just because we might not seem to be winning the battle doesn't mean it isn't being fought. To assume that many who love to see your pictoral messages of beauty and grace, and of our common love for Pale Male that has developed over the years, are not taking action, are not emailing and calling, is unfair. How can you know how many have responded to try to protect these creatures from afar? I can't be in NYC to protest. I have to do what I can and hope from afar. Your photograpahs and missives are the only connection I have and I do feel cut off.
Obviously it is your life, your time and your cameras so I cannot demand anything from you nor should I, but there are a lot of people out here who start their day looking fro new postings on your web site.
God Speed. Your self, and all the creatures we love. I know you do not have time to respond to individual letters nor should you, there are more important things to do. I just wanted you to know how I feel.

Sally S.

More power to you!
I'll be a fan of blank screen forever, if that's what it takes.
In the words of the late great Johnny Cash, "Until things get better, I'll be the man in black."

Mark U.
Olympia WA


You alone cannot possibly fight the battle against hawk poisonings in the Park. Outfits like the Met simply give you a standard brush off.
How about contacting wildlife organizations like:
Audubon Society
Sierra Club
and ask for advice on protecting wildlife, including Hawks, in the Park. One of these large organizations just might take up the cause or give you pointers on saving time by getting to the right people.

Alex M.
Washington, DC


I just read your letter and Marie's copy of it.
Thank YOU for taking a stand. People follow your pictures from all over the world, and all over this country, and maybe this will light some fires under them! I sure hope so.
I'm out of state but not out of mind. I do write, call, e-mail, the culprits, but since I am out of state, I am blown off as irrelevant. But I still try.


Since I have not heard from the attorney whom I sent email inquiry to, I sent the similar inquiry to all the attorneys who wrote the overview. I am sure their attorney fees are extremely high, but sometimes they take contingency fees depending on a situation.
I read your today's article. I hear your anxiety, anger and frustration. But you might need to take into account that Mr. Sea Wings started the
As far as I know, the petition has been already submitted to the state department, and going to be brought to Mayer Bloomberg when signature reaches to 500.

If we cannot connect dots among ourselves, no target is small enough...
Dear Sirs and Madam:
While we, hawk watchers in New York City, are in search of the ways how to stop the usage of pesticide etc. causing hawks' secondary death and illness, we are guided to the article. Especially when the world most famous hawk, Pale Male's babies became victims of the rat poison used by the American Museum of Natural History, all the hawk lovers in New York City became extremely worried over their favorite fledglings. This year alone many hawks were already killed by rat poisons including Pale Male's former mate.
We would like to be informed:

1) Is this act applicable for hawks (not migratory birds though) in New York?
2) If the said act is not applicable, which law can be applied for possible prosecutions of responsible parties?
3) Lastly, would you please inform us the legal definition of "being" to be able to file a law suit? In another word, who can be entitled to "standing to sue" for hawks' death throughout New York City?
I have written to Mr. Jeffery A. Smith at the New York office, but have not received his reply yet. If this is not your practice area, would you please redirect us? We deeply appreciate your time to respond in advance.


Yuko T.


Hello Lincoln...opened your site today to find not the beautiful hawks you photograph each day, but your heart wrenching letter to all who follow you each day to view the most beautiful hawk picture's on the web. I totally understand your point of view in not sharing your photo's right now till the poisoning stops. I hope all those beautiful, playful babies make it.

We lived in NJ for 48 years till we moved to Florida in 2001. Down here we have the same worries with fishing lines, litter on the beaches that kill our birds, turtles and other sea life. We've seen birds with fish hooks down their throats, line wrapped around fins, necks and flipper's.

We have a passion for nature and wildlife as you do. Just look at the comment on the photo I sent you, some people just don't care and it will always be that way. In our very small way we try and make a difference down here when we can.

Your message is loud and clear and I hope it gets across to those who can change what's happening to the wildlife in NYC.

Best of luck to you Lincoln in this passion you have for Palemale and family. Thank you !!!



I read your website today and I will stand with you. I sent the following email to the NYC Parks Service and will ask friends to do the same.

No one has done anything to stop the pesticides which are poisoning the red tailed hawks in NYC parks.

Lincoln Karim is one of the few individuals who has done anything. Where are all of you? Can you email me and tell me what you have done or are doing?

I am sure you have no problem cashing your paycheck every Friday which is paid for by the taxpayer but where are you when someone asks for help?

I am standing by Lincoln Karim because he knows that this beautiful hawk, Pale Male, is a creation of a natural aristocracy.
I live in Detroit , Michigan but his pictures of Pale Male on his website are the first thing I look at every day. It gives me a reason for everything I do.

Tell me -- the taxpayers are paying you to maintain parks. But the "parks" that I see developing are losing trees, because they are continuously cut down and losing animals because they are being killed by poison and if they are lucky enough to survive the poison there is no habitat.

What is the point of keeping any parks if you cut down the trees and expose the wildlife to rat poison, pesticides, fishing line, kite strings, trapping and shooting.

I see pictures of overweight tourists riding in horse drawn carriages and tourists gobbling up greasy fried food sold by vendors near the park. I see spoiled little children with balloons and kites. I see loud obnoxious events that could be held elsewhere - that scare and terrorize and endanger wildlife. This is not a park – it is a circus.

A park has trees and flowers and wildlife who live there because it is a habitat – not a war zone flanked with poison and kite strings and fishing line and pesticides.
People and I mean real people with a heart and a conscience and a love of nature go there to admire and revel in the beauty of nature. But it's disappearing.

PLEASE do something to help these hawks from further poisoning from pesticides!!

By the way – is the Park Service smarter than Darwin, Da Vinci, Einstein, Ghandi and the Dalai Lama? I think not!

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.(Charles Darwin)

The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.(Leonardo Da Vinci)

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. (Albert Einstein)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. (Mohandas Gandhi)

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. (The Dalai Lama)

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do something to help these hawks!!


I tried to call Karen Quigley at the AMNH at the number you posted... (212) 769-7370

I got a recording that stated "The number you dialed is not in service".

I called the Museum's main number 212 769-5100, and chose a directory of the staff option, said her name and was able to leave a message.

Thought you should know.

Murray H.