May 17, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Duck you! Two parkgoers reprimanded for canard caper

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two well-meaning parkgoers who tried to save an injured duck ran afowl of park policy on Thursday — and a Ranger even said the duck should just be left to die.

The controversy began after Anne-Katrin Titze, Ed Bahlman, and others became convinced that a beloved Cayuga duck — nicknamed “Shadow” for his unique and colorful plumage — had fallen ill. The duck was not well, and had a nasty, swollen protuberance the size of an eraser on the side of its head.

Shadow struggled to eat, was no longer preening himself, and tended to stay on land — all bad signs, apparently.

“He’s acting like he’s disoriented — not even trying to get away from us,” said Bahlman. “It seems like he wants us to do something.”

Titze and Bahlman were convinced that the bump on the duck’s head was the result of a BB fired by whomever is responsible for part, if not all, of the bizarre deaths and chicken-park dumping that has fascinated part watchers all spring.

But there’s nothing clear about Thursday’s ducking story.

Despite no formal training as animal wranglers, Titze and Bahlman hatched a plan to capture the creature and turn it over to a professional wildlife handler — they even had a getaway driver waiting outside the park to rush the duck over to the avian expert.

But things didn’t go quite as planned. After spending over an hour attempting to wrangle the crafty creature in a net, an Urban Park Ranger arrived, somewhat irked at the rogue operation.

“I know you guys are trying to do a good thing, but you can’t be out here trying to net birds!” said John Moylett, who is familiar with the pair of swan-lovers that have become outspoken advocates for a cleaner lake.

Moylett eventually — and somewhat begrudgingly — captured the duck, using Titze and Bahlman’s net.

“It’s just a growth,” said Moylett, referring to the lump on the duck’s pate. “If it’s sick, it’s sick. Let it live out its life. If it dies, it’s going to be food for something else!”

Those orders come down from Mother Nature herself, but they struck Bahlman and Titze as cruel — especially given that the park is hardly a natural ecosystem.

“Of course it’s just one duck, but people do care,” added Titze, who is on the verge of receiving her own license as a wildlife rehabilitator.

After capturing the duck, Moylett released it and left it to fend for itself. And Park officials were quick to condemn the perpetrators of the Cayuga caper.

“It is against Parks Department rules to remove animals from the park,” said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for Prospect Park. “If an animal is sick and needing attention, people should contact the Urban Park Rangers. The Rangers may remove an animal, as may a licensed animal rehabilitator called by the Rangers.”

Even the top environmental agency in the state chimed in, noting that the ducks in the park are indeed wild — though they have grown fat and lazy due to parkgoers’ generous bread donations.

“Even if a duck is ‘domesticat­ed,’ it is still considered wildlife if it isn’t someone’s pet,” said Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the DEC. “If the duck is exhibiting any obvious or distress or illness, our advice is to contact the property owner — in this case the city — to take proper action.”

As he was leaving the scene, Moylett acknowledged the recent mysterious and grisly goings-on at the park, including floating chicken heads, dumped animal entrails, and a dead dog. But, Moylett said, he didn’t see the incidents as cause for major concern.

“I’ve never seen a rash of animal killings — or dumping — in five years [working] here in Brooklyn,” he said.

Moylett was also skeptical notions of a park cover-up.

“Come on, we’re the Parks Department. What are we hiding — spaceships in Prospect Park lake?”

The alien finding could neither be confirmed or denied in time for our pressing online deadline.

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jen Jie from South Slope says:
If Shadow dies because of a lack of intervention, it'll be our fault, not "Mother Nature's." Prospect Park is not "nature" any more than the rest of NYC. The park-goers did everything right, they saw injured wildlife, they got an Urban Park Ranger to rescue it, and the Ranger just dropped the ball. He caught the duck (obviously sick or injured by something), got a picture for the press, and then just let it go?? The lakeside will be a lot poorer without Shadow around.
May 17, 2010, 1:21 pm
LuLu from PLG says:
We are supposed to rely on the parks department who allow all the trash in the lake, to take care of injured animals? Come many geese with fishing line wrapped around their feet has anyone seen the parks department save? They don't care, and can't be bothered. Bravo for anyone who finds the time and has the heart to try and care for the animals and our environment....which is the most important cause of our time.

Now lets get some mops and head for the gulf coast.....or maybe we can just wait for the oil to reach Coney Island.
May 17, 2010, 1:39 pm
Rick from Windsor Terrace says:
The Parks Department is obviously not doing a good job protecting wildlife and the park's ecosystem. The fact that two citizens have has to take matters into their own hands should not be considered a violation of park rules. The rules were not set up to discourage people from helping park wildlife.
May 17, 2010, 2:18 pm
Sheila from PLG says:
Three months ago I was sitting at a local outdoor restaurant on Lincoln - a couple of young kids had a bb gun and were shooting at the patrons - police were called - kids ran off - and since there have been no bb shootings. I have the ability to pick up a phone and call the police - the wildlife in the park have no one to speak up for them but the likes of Ms Titze and Mr Bahlman - I believe the Park Personnel/Rangers/Administrators haven't the empathic skills necessary to work in or around a park setting - the park is Nature with skewed power dynamics - until we can arm the ducks with machetes, the fish with poison darts, the geese with the power to poop en masse on park patrons someone needs to speak up. The Park personnel who attempt to discredit those who care with snide remarks should be given a week of unpaid leave - possibly get some therapy in order to get in touch with his or her humanity.
May 17, 2010, 7:28 pm
Caroline from Windsor Terrace says:
"Call us, we don't care" is the Prospect Park Alliance's new slogan for this summer.
May 18, 2010, 8:18 am
Henry from Park Slope says:
Turtles are poached from the lake. Illegal fishing is taking place every day and is ignored by those setting enforcement policy. Fishing hooks, lines and sinkers are left behind as hazards to all who migrate to and inhabit the lakeside.
The Urban Park Rangers have been neutered by the Prospect Park Alliance.
May 18, 2010, 8:29 am
Mark from Kensington says:
Urban Park Rangers are understaffed and overworked. It's another form of neglect by this administration and shows the lack of concern they have for the park environment.
The wildlife in Prospect Park is in danger and there are not enough caring individuals to go around.
May 18, 2010, 9:38 am
Paul from Windsor Terrace says:
The lakeside is a hostile environment and is in need of more patrols by those paid to protect the park.
The amount of containers left by public drinking and the remains of used condoms are just two of the abuses that go unchecked. This is a public safety and health issue. The Prospect Park Alliance has never spoken out against this kind of behavior and has not dedicated any resources towards trying to lessen this out of control problem.
May 18, 2010, 11:27 am
Jennifer from Park Slope says:
We, who teach our children to care for and respect the park, are appalled by the reaction from the Prospect Park Alliance.
May 19, 2010, 9:17 am
Ken from Windsor Terrace says:
That the Prospect Park Alliance pretends to it knows what's going on in the park is the biggest farce being perpertrated on the public.
Their knee-jerk reaction to every incident would be laughable, if not for their serious lack of ability to take care and respond in a meaningful way to the concerns of park-goers.
May 20, 2010, 10:46 am
Jim from Park Slope says:
"It's your Park" only has meaning to those who get paid by the Alliance.
The park has been stripped bare of essential services by Tupper Thomas' inability to see and prepare for the years of neglect that have already taken place.
Right in front of our eyes, the park is falling apart each and every day.
Take off your blinders and admit your failures.
May 20, 2010, 11:13 am
Steve from Windsor Terrace says:
As a witness to this event, I can affirm that it was reported accurately by Stephen Brown. This is a very well done and amusing article. Congratulations!

Congratulations also to Park Ranger John Moylett. He did his job professionally and with compassion and honesty. I learned that he is one of only two Rangers in the whole borough of Brooklyn. This is truly absurd understaffing by the Parks Department!

And congratulations to Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman for their ongoing advocacy for the park's wildlife.

They have become a sort of informal Auxiliary Urban Park Ranger Corps. Given the city's budget issues and problems, perhaps it is time for the Parks Department to institute a real Auxiliary Urban Park Rangers Corps, similar to wah exists for the NYC Police Department. Volunteers could be properly trained and deployed to assist the Park Rangers.
May 21, 2010, 1:13 pm
John from Ditmas Park says:
Thank You Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman for your wonderful
Granted the Alliance is under funded but I think they should take
a greater interest in the health of those animals living in the lake,
after all there health is a proxy for the health of the lake.
I agree with Steve from Windsor Terrace, the Alliance should take
advantage of the natural resource represented by Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman to improve the lake.
At the very least the Alliance should inform park goers what to do
if they find things of concern in and around the lake, and the Alliance
should report back what they have done.
May 24, 2010, 5:45 am

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