Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Roosevelt Island Rat Bait Trap Poison Kills One Dog, Injures Another

I received a message on January 12 from a concerned Roosevelt Island resident:

about the unattended rat bait stations throughout Roosevelt Island
Image of Roosevelt Island Rat Bait Trap
reporting that:
there have been contact by 2 dogs 1 in which died, the other wound up in the emergency @ the animal medical center due to eating the Rat poison this past weekend
despite the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) being informed previously of the Rat Bait Traps not being properly secured.

On January 13 I sent the following message to RIOC's Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez:
I have heard from residents that a dog was poisoned from RIOC's use of rat traps.

Any comment?
RIOC's Press Spokesperson replied that a response is forthcoming soon. Will publish the response as soon as it is received.

Roosevelt Island resident Joyce Mincheff adds:
A dog has been poisoned

The dog is recovering but has permanent liver damage.

From the results of the dog's blood test, the Vet commented that his level was the highest she had seen in a dog that survived. It takes approximately 3 to 5 days for the poison to produce severe symptoms from the time it's ingested. The dog was bleeding throughout its organs. It had not been off the Island in over 2 weeks.

The dog weighs approximately 17 lbs. It's unlikely that a dog with less weight would have survived. That would include breeds like Chuahuahs, Yorkies, Maltese, Jack Russels, Shitzhuhs, Havanese, Min-Pins, Pomeranians, all toys.

I've spoken to RIOC about their use of rat poison and I understand that the buildings use similar devices.

It's imperative that locations where rat poison is in use should be posted. RIOC tells me that their boxes are virtually tamper-proof and locked down. It seems likely to me, that any authorized, qualified exterminator would be careful in securing the trap. As RIOC has reported doing, I'm wondering whether it's possible for the buildings to use the spring trap that catches the rat rather than poison.

I'm hoping all the building managers will:
  • inspect their bate boxes and make sure they're secure,
  • post notices to alert the public where rat poison is in use,
  • exchange all poison devices for spring traps.
Since we can assume that any effort made by the buildings or by RIOC would have taken place with appropriate caution, it seems more likely that the poison was maliciously put out. I would like to ask you all to pledge to a fund that will provide a reward to anyone leading to the identification and arrest of any individual who spreads poison on the grounds of the Island in an unauthorized way. I'll be making a comment in the upcoming WIRE and on the blog, and would like to include a notice of this reward.

If there is any other suggestion you have concerning this matter, please advise.
The rat bait poison traps are located at Firefighters Field, Capobianco Field and near the Octagon.

UPDATE 1/19 - Just received response from RIOC:
Last week, RIOC was alerted to a potential rat bait poisoning of a dog on the Island, which has not been substantiated. In response, we had the rodent bait stations on Roosevelt Island inspected by Urban Exterminating Services. They found that all stations were covered with locked, tamper-proof bait stations, which are State-approved.

Residents and visitors should note that tamper-proof bait stations are located throughout the Island, but rodenticide (which is included in certain of the more heavily infested stations) is placed away from where people and pets can easily access it.

However, due to lack of rodent activity, many of the stations were removed. We will now use poison-free snap traps except for in heavily infested or garbage dumping areas. All areas will continue to be inspected twice a month.
UPDATE 8:45 - RIOC Board of Directors discussed issue today. Here's what happened.


Denise Shull said...

Not to be naive or anything but is there a good reason for there to be rat poison of any kind scattered around this island? I mean I have never seen any of these in any other park in NYC or say for example, anywhere near subway tracks where rats can easily be observed running in and out of the walls.

No I am thinking that since we are more "water bound" maybe that is it so maybe someone can enlighten me.

Susan Shields Arcelay said...

There are rate traps along the river behind Westview.  I've seen at least 2 there along the sidewalk in plan view.  Also, I have seen rats here.  I saw one fighting with 2 squirrels in the park near Blackwell house between the house and the basketball court.  Looked like a "turf" battle.  Broad daylight, walking with my kids through the park.  It's terrible that the dog died and the other was sickened.  I hope they secure them and give us some answers.

residential said...

The stupidity of RIOC for doing that is shameful. Have you seen any warning signs about rat poison anywhere on this island? Have they sent out any RIOC advisories? Have there been any fliers? Is it RIOC or the groundspeople at Southtown or the Octagon? Maybe that's too much to ask! As for rats, I've lived here a long time, raised my kids here and never saw any rats! Squirrels and pigeons yes, but not rats!

CheshireKitty said...

I've never seen any rats here although it is said that the rat population of NYC exceeds the human population, so they must be here.  

If rat traps/poison is being set out in parks or anywhere on the island, then signs must be posted prominently that rat poison has been set out.  I've seen signs warning of rat poison being set out in parks and in the subway.  I'm sure there is a regulation that whenever rat poison/traps are set out, signs must be posted so that we can be more attentive with pets/kids in those areas or better still avoid the areas where rat poison has been set out. 

RIOC needs to step in and at least post signs warning of rat poison or remove the traps.  If the traps are going to stay in place, RIOC needs to ensure that the traps are secure and that only rats can get in - not pets or God forbid kids.  

Personally, because of the limited amount of park space, I would be more comfortable if these traps were removed altogether.  

RIOC should tell us the extent of the rat problem on RI - why traps are needed at all.  Aside from Ms. Arcelay who reported seeing a rat at Blackwell Park once, I can't recall other accounts of rats on RI, or even a rat problem.  Is RIOC overdoing it by putting these traps out in the first place?  

residential said...

I'm sure that if we complain that there is a city law requiring warnings (as they do when spraying for West Nile mosquitos), RIOC and/PSD will say it's not a state law and they don't work for NYC! As in, why the hell are we paying NYC income tax and sales tax? Or did someone get paid off by the exterminating company?

residential said...

We have a huge feral cat population here, so I wonder if there are any rats after all!

westviewgirl said...

Huge? I would not say the feral and abandoned cat population is huge here at all. Thanks to the efforts of concernced and caring island resident volunteers, the feral and abandoned cat population number is not as high as it would be without their help. Do you know anything about the group and what they do or how much they have done for the island? That is one reasong the rat population is so LOW here. Not sure why poison is being put out at all by RIOC, that should be stopped and I hope RIOC will take care of all the medical bills for the sick dogs. 

You should go to other neighborhoods in the city and see the amount of feral cats there. This island should praise the group here and be more pro-active in help the volunteers provide foster homes, medical care and population control efforts, not complaine about the cats that have been abandoned or dumped here. It is not the animals fault, but the humans that do that..those humans should be fined and prosecuted for doing this crime. So thank the cats that are forced to live outside for their role in keeping the rat population down here. It could be a lot worse. 

PeaceandPlenty said...

How did the dogs get at the poison.  Wouldn't those black boxes prevent the dogs from getting into it?  I thought that was what their purpose was -- to protect the bait inside.

theohiostate said...

There are rats here.  I've seen them by the dumpster by M&D Deli, Trellis and even by the South town dumpster area.  The building companies need to do something about this.  I would hate for a child or pet to be bitten by one of these vermin.