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Posts Tagged ‘jfk’

Jackrabbit at JFK Airport by Robert Horvath

Beavers might be honored by the city seal and mosaics at Astor Place, but bunnies know where the fun is. Coney Island derives its named from konijn, the Dutch word for rabbit. It’s fitting that this energetic and fertile creature (rabbits can get pregnant while already pregnant) would define the playground of our city. Today they, and other lagomorphs (they aren’t rodents) might serve as a model for our citywide recycling plan…or maybe not.

One thing is certain, however: the Easter Bunny belongs in New York City. Not only was the East Side once significantly German (Germany is the homeland of this myth), but nobody would question the self-identity of an egg-laying bunny dude named Peter around here.

Rabbits and other hares are indigenous to New York City, but the species seems to have evolved in Asia. The earliest fossil evidence for the emerging species, dating back 55 million years, was unearthed in Mongolia.

New York City’s section of Long Island’s southern edge is still hopping with rabbits and hares, especially on Jamaica Bay. At the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge you’ll spot eastern cottontails while JFK International Airport boasts a back-tailed jackrabbit population, which escaped from a cargo hold long ago.

Eastern cottontail.

Other rabbits of the more cuddly bunny kind, and therefore far less able to adapt to the wild, are irresponsibly and inhumanely abandoned in our parks and green spaces. Please consider adopting a rescued rabbit, or supporting or volunteering for the New York City chapter of the House Rabbit Society’s Rabbit Rescue and Rehab group. As herbivores, rabbits are a great eco-pet choice, giving you a far smaller carbon footprint as well as tons of love.

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Neighborhoodcats.org photo of JFK cat protest.

Neighborhoodcats.org photo of JFK cat protest.

by Erik Baard

Australia is learning that it’s traded one form of “cute overload” for another, and there might be lessons for New York City.

 

As reported in this article, Australia attacked its cat overpopulation problem in the interest of preserving its indigenous bird species. The trouble is, without the feline predators around, a rabbit population explosion ensued, stripping away ground foliage needed for safe bird nesting.

 

The conflict between cat lovers and conservationists, which is often an inner one, spans the globe. In NYC it’s found focus on Jamaica Bay and the JFK Airport. Emotional pleas and conservation science studies have crashed upon walls of bureaucracy in recent years as airport officials cleared out a stray cat population. One ironic twist is that some airport managers have claimed that the cats are attracting birds, with their food and feces, and posing a hazard to planes. While bird strikes are very real, environmental concerns on Jamaica Bay center on ground nesting birds.

 

Cats are the flashpoint where empathy and responsibility crash in on themselves.

 

We feel for the cats, cast off in a breach of our social contract with them as a companion species. Activists might have a point in calling the feral ones, though born outside of human housing, “homeless.” That’s certainly true for abandoned pets. But we also grasp the suffering that attends habitat loss and losing young, as birds and other small species struggle to hold on under assault from feline predators.

 

Our sense of responsibility is weighty because we’ve both marginalized local species to a fringe of habitat and introduced an effective predator.

 

The greatest point of consensus is that cats should be adopted only responsibly (for life, and neutered), and that they should be kept indoors. But in cases where colonies already exist, sterilization and reintroduction seems is the most humane and effective means of dealing with the cat population. Infertile cats will still hold territory, preventing a rapid repopulation of the area by breeding cats from adjacent neighborhoods. With rats, another species that’s forever the subject of population control schemes, denying food helps disperse a population and keep them busy seeking sustenance instead of breeding. When social animals have a central food source, they gather and find mates, and have the surplus energy to breed and bear young.

 

Just ask the rabbits down under!

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