For several weeks, one or more people have been attacking wildlife in Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, injuring and sometimes killing animals with a blow dart gun. According to A Walk In The Park, at least eight animals have been injured since the attacks started—and it all stems from weapons purchased from nearby shops. "Apparently it's becoming a popular thing in that area," Joseph Puleo, a member of the union that represents the park patrol officers, told Metro. "People purchase blow guns locally and then go out into the parks to use them on animals. They're basically going hunting in that park."
The first attack happened on September 21st, when four birds were found shot with darts. Two were killed, and the other two had to be euthanized because of their injuries. Then last Tuesday, another four animals were found shot. Two ring-billed gulls were wounded, with one shot below the eye; one Canadian goose was darted in the shoulder; and a squirrel was also hit. Parks patrol haven't been able to catch the injured squirrel yet.
The plastic blow guns, which are about as big as a pen, can shoot up to 70 feet and can be purchased in local bodegas legally. "What makes it really bad is these local merchants are providing the weapons," said Puleo. "We have the mayor trying to set all new mandates on illegal firearms, and these things are being sold in local stores." According to Council Member James Vacca, they are considered toys and are not dangerous to humans, but are obviously dangerous to animals: “Toy guns are banned in New York City, and these blow guns must be done away with too,” he told A Walk In The Park. “They serve no productive purpose, especially when they are used illegally and unacceptably to kill and maim animals."
Vacca added that the incidents "highlight the need for more security in Pelham Bay Park." For now, parks officers in the Bronx have indeed increased their patrol in the Orchard Beach area.