New York Post, Wednesday, June 24, 1998
CITY BLASTED IN
By SUSAN RUBINOWITZ
and FREDRIC U. DICKER
The city's animal shelter did virtually nothing to try to save a sick peregrine falcon that died in its care, according to a stinging state report obtained by The Post
"If the peregrine had received proper care, it would have had a chance of survival," wrote respected State wildlife pathologist Ward Stone, who performed an autopsy on the bird.
The falcon, found on a Midtown street Feb. 10, languished at the Center for Animal Care and Control on East 110 Street until a state environmental officer spotted the ailing bird and rushed it to a private veterinarian on Feb. 12.
The bird "appeared to be in dire need of medical attention," wrote Stone.
By then it was too late. The bird, banded with federal identification, died at the Animal Medical Center less than an hour after it arrived. It had ingested poison, probably from eating a poisoned pigeon or other bird, Stone concluded.
"This peregrine should have gone to a place where it could have been properly evaluated and treated," Stone wrote to the State Department of Environmental Conservation.
"It is unlikely that a shelter that deals primarily with dogs and cats is going to have the training and skills to handle poisoned birds," Stone said.
"However, they could be expected to keep it warm and get it rapidly to a veterinarian or skilled wildlife rehabilitator . . ."
Stone said there was no evidence the bird had "received fluid or food orally the day of his death" or even longer.
He recommended that the DEC, Bronx Zoo experts and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service help the city develop a plan to handle similar emergencies.
That session will take place July 9, said DEC spokesman Gary Sheffer.
"What this incident has done is highlight the fact that there was no mechanism or program for dealing with injured wildlife," Sheffer said.
CACC executive director Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm was backed up right now" and unavailable for comment, said shelter spokesman Kyle Burkhart.
He issued a statement denying CACC had done anything wrong. But the statement also said, "CACC is pleased to learn the DEC is not bringing any legal proceedings against the CACC."
The agency pledged to cooperate with the state to develop new procedures to safeguard rare animals. CACC enlisted Constantino Sidamon-Eristoff, a former regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to conduct his own review of the incident.
Sidamon-Eristoff concluded the falcon had not been mistreated and was fed and provided with water "each day."
But Sidamon-Eristoff, father of City Councilman Andrew Eristoff (R-Manhattan), conceded that his findings were based on interviews and records, not an independent autopsy. Sidamon-Eristoff said CACC personnel had "contacted at least three wildlife rehabilitators and attempted to contact others who could care for the bird."
Despite those claims, he said, "I am going to essentially recommend the same thing" as Stone.