Parks patrol officers in the Bronx have now found several animals in Pelham Bay Park that have been shot with blow guns.
The first animals were found on September 21. More were found on Tuesday of last week, said Joseph Puleo, a member of Local 983, the union that represents the park patrol officers.
A parks patrol officer reported that a variety of animals have been attacked. A bird that was shot below the eye and “numerous squirrels” have been found in the parking lot area of the expansive park, according to Puleo.
“Apparently it’s becoming a popular thing in that area,” Puleo 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.”
Puleo says that the parks officers have also contacted the local precinct in that area, but as of yet there is no specific task force or anything else set up to specifically deal with this issue.
Rodney Rivera at the Department of Environmental Protection told Metro that DEC officers in the Bronx have stepped up their patrol in the Orchard Beach area, where the animals have been found.
According to Puleo, a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer told him that the blow guns can be purchased in bodegas around the Pelham Bay Park-Orchard Beach area.
“What makes it really bad is these local merchants are providing the weapons,” he said. “We have the mayor trying to set all new mandates on illegal firearms, and these things are being sold in local stores.”
“These are lethal weapons,” Puleo said.
At least two geese injured by darts were seen walking in Pelham Bay Park on Wednesday.
According to a parks patrol officer who requested to not be named, as officers are not allowed to speak with the press, two geese have died so far from the shootings, and two others had to be euthanized.
A squirrel was also hit, and seen running around the park, injured. Parks patrol has as yet been unable to catch the injured squirrel.
The officer expressed doubts that the squirrel would have survived, calling the darts “a death sentence.”
Both Puleo and the officer said that the attacks on animals were bad enough, but they are now concerned that this trend could extend to attacks on people.
“Someone could purchase one of these things to do harm to humans,” warned Puleo.
One goose was injured on it’s right side, and the other goose, above, had a dart stuck on its left side.
Just how dangerous are blow guns?
Blow guns are legal to possess but are illegal to use for hunting, according to Lisa King with the Department of Conservation.
Plastic blow guns can shoot up to 70 feet, and the darts are the size of a pen, according to Geoffrey Croft, a civilian who maintains the parks safety blog “A Walk in the Park.”
“If it’s something that you’re just blowing into through a tube, they can’t be going that fast, but if the dart is sharp enough, it would certainly cause some damage,” mused an employee at the Bronx gun dealership Olinville Arms Co., who declined to give his name.
James, an employee at the Texas-based blow gun manufacturing company DMA Inc. who declined to give his last name, described a blow gun as “a long metal tube that you stick a kind of needle into.” He described the needle as similar to the thin piece of lead used in mechanical pencils.
“It could probably pierce skin, but it’s not going to kill anybody or anything,” James said.
He said he did not believe it would be possible to hunt with a blow gun.
“I guess if you shot the same animal with a dart a hundred times then maybe it’ll due, but not if you try and shoot a bird with one dart,” he said.
“Blow darts are for twelve-year-olds for fun,” he added.
All photos by Victor Matos/Metro