Letters to the Editor and Others

To: Governor George E. Pataki Concerning Bald Eagles

Wildlife Watch Inc.

Helping People, Environment, and Wildlife

PO BOX 562, NEW PALTZ, NY 12561

Voice:(845) 256-1400; Fax:(845) 622-7999

e-mail: [email protected]

Contact: Joe Miele, Vice President 201-368-8271


Governor George E. Pataki
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224


June 10, 2003


 Dear Governor Pataki:


Wildlife Watch, Inc. is an animal protection organization that seeks to educate the public about the mismanagement of wildlife by state and federal wildlife agencies, and the destruction of wildlife and ecosystems in the name of sport hunting and game management.  On behalf of our members and supporters throughout New York, we urge you to intervene in the program in which the US Fish & Wildlife Service would give the New York City Urban Park Rangers four baby bald eagles in an attempt to establish a viable population of the birds in Manhattan.  We are asking that you stop this misguided program from taking place, as it will have tragic consequences for the eagles – the proud and mighty symbol of our nation.


In the wild, bald eagles build huge nests in the tops of large trees near rivers, lakes, marshes, or other wetland areas.   They require a nesting location that is safe from the threat of human disturbance and usually choose their nest tree accordingly.  Since human interference can kill many eaglets; only about half will survive their first year.  They need an environment of quiet isolation; tall, mature trees; and clean waters; conditions that do not exist in New York City – the most urban area of the entire country.


In what amounts as little more than a publicity stunt and spectacle for tourists, the lives of these birds will be put in grave danger.  Up to this point, the program to release eagles in Manhattan has been a dismal failure. 


According to records from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, bald eagles have never lived in New York City.  Given that Manhattan is the most developed island in the western hemisphere, it is unlikely, if not impossible, that bald eagles can ever make their home in such an alien environment.  To make matters worse, the “eagle expert” hired by the New York City Parks Department to run the eagle program has a shady history regarding birds of prey.  US Fish and Wildlife records indicate that he convicted of smuggling eggs from birds of prey. It has been reported that two eagles have died under his care in the last year.


Aside from apparently shaky leadership, this release program has a sullied history.  Of the first four eagle chicks who were released last summer, one was shot and one was euthanized by Cornell University for humane reasons after being hit by a train. The fate of the remaining two eaglets is unknown.  Now, the Parks Department wants to release baby eagles in a small upper Manhattan park adjacent to where major highways and railroad corridors converge.  As the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana so wisely stated, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."


Eagles cannot live long in New York City and do not belong in New York City, and exploiting them for the benefit of tourists and the media is cruel and inhumane.  As governor, we urge you to stop this atrocity from taking place.  Your reply to our concerns will be greatly appreciated.




Joe Miele


Cc:  John Cahill, Secretary to the Governor

      Richard Bennett, Reg. Dir. of US Fish & Wildlife Service

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