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May 28, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Animal attraction! Now someone is trying to poach turtles in Prospect Park

The Brooklyn Paper

Turtles better hide in their shells — it appears someone is poaching the precious creatures from the lake in Prospect Park!

Two regular parkgoers, Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman, discovered the shocking trap in the water last Tuesday while cleaning the area around the nest of one of their beloved swans.

The trap, which is slightly bigger than a shoebox, had a long line tethered to it, which was secured under a fallen tree. Titze snared the line with a stick after noticing that Sedna, a mother swan, was nibbling at some odd debris — turned out to be a shirt — near the bank of the lake.

“It was like she wanted us to clean up,” said Bahlman, explaining how they stumbled upon the shocking find.

Bahlman and Titze even said they found another trap the day before.

But park officials were hesitant to declare the traps a clear sign of poaching.

“I can’t say [if that is] a turtle trap or what kind of trap it is or what animals someone was trying to trap with it,” said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance, who was shown a photograph of the apparent trap. But regardless, he added, “Trapping or capturing of wildlife is absolutely prohibited.”

It is hard to imagine what other purpose the trap could have served. The basket is not meant to capture fish, and the area where it was found is preferred among turtles, which bask on the many fallen trees on the edge of the lake.

“It’s clearly not a fish trap, because no fish could get caught in it,” said Max Gaspeny, a lifelong fisherman familiar with Prospect Park. “A turtle was not blessed with the grace of a fish, so it wouldn’t be able to get out of there quickly — it’s a crude trap, but I can’t imagine what else [someone] would be going after with that thing.”

Gaspeny added that it’s not uncommon for people to eat the meat of turtles and or use the shells as decorations.

The latest discovery only reinforced Bahlman and Titze’s concerns about the safety of the lake for the diverse wildlife that call it home.

Last week, a cygnet met its demise after it became entangled in fishing line. Sedna was wrapped and up and wounded by a stray hook and line as well.

Subsequent reports revealed that the swans’ violent nature was rearing its feathered head again, as a cygnet mets its demise after running afowl of Jaws — a swan notorious for his short fuse.

And it was only in December that a careless fisherman was considered the likely culprit for the plight of “Beaky,” the deformed goose missing the top half of its beak.

The dog advocacy group, FIDO, has donated four fishing line recycling bins that are being installed around the lake — a measure that should help prevent wildlife entanglements.

The discovery of the turtle trap is just the latest bizarre happening in Prospect Park so far this year — a year that has seen wounded ducks, the dumping of animal parts, the spilling of blood, and the death of beloved swan, John Boy, in an alleged act of swan-on-swan violence.

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Seth from PLG says:
It is doubtful that someone is trying to poach turtles in Prospect Park.

In fact, the opposite is usually true - people abandon pet turtles in the park creating populations of non-native species. The prodigious number of red-eared sliders is a case in point - these were not indigenous to the area and now number in the hundreds in the lake and tributaries of the park.
May 28, 2010, 11:48 am
Peter Bray from Park Slope says:
Please give your readership a rest on this story. Your reporting has become too sensationalistic. Aren't there other topics of interest to the neigborhoods you serve?
May 28, 2010, 1:17 pm
Peter Bray from Park Slope says:
Please give your readership a rest on this story. Your reporting has become too sensationalistic. Aren't there other topics of interest to the neigborhoods you serve?
May 28, 2010, 1:17 pm
LuLu from PLG says:
I have seen people trying to catch turtles with their fishing line. I think a little attention to the subject- along with the fact that there are old cages amongst the trash in the lake is very important and maybe we will see some changes in the near future. If it seems sensational it's because it is- the animals should be honored. FYI - 150 endangered dead turtles washed up on Louisiana shore as of two days ago.
May 29, 2010, 11:48 am
Bob from Cobblehill says:
On Memorial Day we along with others, witnessed a swan stalk attack and then kill a baby goose. Another was picked up and shaken so violently that it's spine was damaged and lay helplessly on the banks of the lake. This happened despite the efforts of a crowd of children and an elderly mans attempt to intervene. This Swan was on a mission to kill. Is the natural? Or is this swan have issues? It did not eat it's prey OR try to attack the adult Canadian geese.
June 1, 2010, 7:31 am
Colin from Windsor Terrace says:
A response for Bob: The geese are very aggressive and far out number the swan family. They have been seen fighting over the swan nest when it is unoccupied. Their goslings grow at a rapid rate, while the 4 remaining cygnets at Prospect Park Lake are still very small. The large number of geese flying in and out are considered by the adult swans as a real threat.
June 1, 2010, 9:45 am
Ron from Kensington says:
Do not under-estimate the amount of poaching going on at Prospect Park Lake.
There are fines which start at $1000.00 for each offense. Enforcement is a must.
The fact that this goes on in a city park is inexcusable. The priorities set by those in charge have for along time been out of touch with reality.
The policy set by the Alliance on the abuses at the lake is, look the other way in every case.
June 1, 2010, 11:42 am
John from Ditmas says:
To Peter Bray from Park Slope

I and others are interested in this story as evidenced by the comments. If you really are not interested then don't read them.
It is quite obvious from the Meadows of Shame line what they are
about. So once you see that line move on to something else.

If however you feel compelled to read you are interested and
probably experiencing shame. Do you have some responsibility
for the park? Are you a parks department employee?
June 3, 2010, 7:51 pm
Michele from Kensington says:
Agree 100% that it sounds sensationalistic because it is! The abuse and neglect of Prospect park is a top priority in this neighborhood! The Park could be paradise. It was designed by people who thought if humans could not have access to nature they would go insane. They were right! Park is a rare and irreplaceable asset in a city so dense with human-made artifacts. To some it makes all the difference! Prospect Park deserves to be respected and maintained. This is a VERY HARD time for the park - suffering from years of neglect and abuse. All those trying to save Park from turning into Toxic Waste Dump need encouragement and deserve great praise! WE WHO LOVE THE PARK CARE! A LOT! Those who are not doing their jobs maintaining the health of the Park's environment are the only ones who don't want to hear about it! SHAME ON YOU!
June 4, 2010, 10:12 am
Jen Jie from South Slope says:
I am SO grateful that this reporter and this paper is continuing to cover the problems with poaching, garbage, and wildlife mortality around the lake. Prospect Park is the pride of many different neighborhoods, and enough cannot be said until the park management actually responds in action (not just words) to improve the maintenance around the lake shore.

Last year, all the cygnets except one died from fishing-related injuries. Is it too much to ask for some enforcement against illegal poaching and fishing (which is NOT supposed to be allowed around clusters of wildlife)? The park alliance needs to put up some clear signs about fishing regulations in key wildlife gathering spots around the lake. If I'm gonna ask some stranger with a hook to please not fish where he's standing (something I've NEVER seen the park personnel do), it'd be helpful to at least have a sign to point to.
June 4, 2010, 10:20 am
Rick from Windsor Terrace says:
Unlike Peter Bray, I am concerned about what goes on in our parks. If problems are not exposed, they will not be corrected. Thank you, Brooklyn Paper, for staying with this unfolding story. Thank you, Ann-Katrin and Ed, for volunteering your time in trying to improve Prospect Park.
June 4, 2010, 10:38 am
John from Park Slope says:
Prospect Park claims to have an Audubon Center. The total lack of care for this lake as a wildlife habitat is inexcusable. The executive director of the Audubon Center, Glenn Phillips cannot be taken seriously when he remains mute, regarding the substandard conditions and lack of enforcement.
The landscape has eroded substantially, exposing the roots of most trees located near the lake. The stonework which was once the bank, has fallen into the water years ago.
The Alliance has no clue how to maintain and care for a lake.
June 4, 2010, 11:50 am
Caroline from Park Slope says:
The birders who come to Prospect Park are silent also. They, as individuals, should be concerned when fishing line is caught in trees, bushes. Not an outspoken word from the Brooklyn Bird Club president/Prospect Park Aliiance employee.
The lake as bird habitat in many locations has become a stagnant, foul smelling garbage dump.
June 4, 2010, 12:41 pm
Jim from Windsor Terrace says:
Fishermen have seen and reported these abuses to park officials in the past. Poaching of turtles and fish is an all too common and out of control problem at Prospect Park Lake.
The pretending by the Prospect Park Alliance and their personnel that they don't know is going on is a downright boldface lie.
June 4, 2010, 12:57 pm
Hailey says:
To Bob, I would say to let nature take it's course. But as for the poaching, if there is poaching, it upsets me.
June 15, 2010, 7:46 pm

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