June 7, 2011- By Steven Greer, MD
BatteryPark.TV has learned that a mallard duck nest in Teardrop Park, that hatched into at least 10 ducklings, all drowned in the waterfall pond approximately two weeks ago. According to park sources, a local resident claiming to be “licensed to handle wildlife”, gathered either the unhatched eggs, or the newly hatched chicks, from their Northeast location in the park, and then took them into his nearby apartment. We inquired with doorman at most of the apartment buildings near Teardrop Park, and no one seems to have heard of this “mystery man”, who some say goes by the name James, if he exists at all.
The waterfall pond by the Irish Hunger memorial was not prepared to accommodate the birds, having no islands above water level, when this “wildlife expert” transferred the ducklings into the pond. They all perished of exposure within 12 hours, according to multiple park employees.
Many conservancy employees, including Tess Huxley, Executive Director Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, were well aware that multiple mallard females had nested this year again in Teardrop Park and the Irish Hunger Memorial. BatteryPark.TV had published a video and story about the mating behavior on May 5th. However, no preparations for the highly popular ducklings to be raised in the pond were set forth as were made in 2010.
In fact, a park employee told us that they believed the waterfall pond water level was intentionally raised so as to create no islands conducive for the soon-to-be-hatched ducklings. It has been the policy of Tess Huxley to refuse to assist any wildlife in the parks, citing parks regulations. Recall, the beautiful and valuable large Koi fish in the pond, at least 16 years old, were all allowed to perish in the record-breaking harsh winter as the parks executives refused to crack the ice to allow in oxygen. The fish now in the pond were quick replacements meant to correct for this tragedy.
No one at the Parks Conservancy or the BPCA replied to our more than ten calls and emails requesting these parks regulations to be specifically listed. If they do, we will update this story.
More recently, approximately one week ago, the nest in the grass of the Irish Hunger Memorial hatched. According to a park employee, one duckling, trying to reach the pond within site, jumped the 30-feet drop onto the pavement and died. The park employee responsible for the pond maintenance, James, noticed that the other five ducklings were in peril and quickly took action. He called his superiors and told them that he had to immediately lower the water to make the circular islands reappear, and he transferred the ducklings to safety.
What happened next is a mystery to everyone interviewed. The five or more ducklings began to vanish each day. James found no dead bodies as were found when the Teardrop Park nest perished. The best working hypothesis is that someone has stolen the ducklings, although that seems to be a pure guess. Two ducklings remain, for the time being.
It is not clear whether the parks staff are feeding the birds this year, as they did last year. To the casual observer, the pond appears to be a natural self-sustaining microenvironment able to provide food for the ducklings that are unable to escape the pond until they fly. However, that is not the case. The pond is essentially just a swimming pool made of concrete with plants inserted. The ducklings cannot escape, and once placed inside the pond, are at the complete mercy of humans for survival.
In 2009, a large group of ducklings, also transferred into the pond by the urban mythical “wildlife expert” according to multiple park employees, all starved except for two. In 2010, approximately five out 15 had starved until BatteryPark.TV first became aware of the problem and encouraged the parks to step in. A volunteer fed the birds for the season until they were able to fly. All 10 made it to maturity.
If anyone knows the identity of the mystery “wildlife expert”, possibly named Jerry, or has any knowledge of anyone harboring the most recent ducklings as pets, please email us at once.
(Waterfall pond with Irish Memorial and Freedom Tower behind)