NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is not just home to people – according to city officials, hundreds of species of wild animals also call the Big Apple home.
But as CBS2’s Alice Gainer reported, there is a push to alert people to stop feeding them.
The urban wildlife is all too familiar to New Yorkers, and often not so welcome.
“Rats,” said Stan Meyer of Manhattan. We see a lot of rats We see lots of rats in the subway and Central Park.”
“Pigeons and squirrels and rats and other bad things,” said Dan Giachetti of Astoria, Queens.
“Squirrels,” said Chris Peters of Manhattan. “I had a squirrel come in my apartment a few times. Then I bought a window screen.”
But deer, raccoons, coyotes and red-tailed hawks also make homes in parts of the five boroughs.
“I saw a hawk over there,” Julia Lofaso of Astoria, Queens said outside the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park.
CBS2 also spotted the hawk on a branch in the park. And in Central Park, Lofaso also said she has seen turtles and once saw a raccoon.
One man sadly spotted a dead raccoon the other day.
“I saw this on Madison Avenue early one morning,” he said, adding that it surprised him.
Last year, CBS2 reported on the two dozen raccoons that were living near the pond just off Central Park South. One big reason they stuck around was that people were feeding them.
On Staten Island, an exploding deer population is causing vehicle collisions and damaging tires.
To help combat problems and attempt to coexist peacefully with the creatures, a new phase of the campaign WildlifeNYC was rolled out by the city Tuesday.
Ads will begin appearing on buses, in the subway and on phone kiosks, telling people not to feed the animals – which can be a common sight in New York.
“They feed squirrels by hand; they crawl up their arm,” Giachetti said.
City Department of Parks and Recreation say people think they are doing a good thing by feeding ducks and other animals. But if you share your food with them, they lose their natural hunting instincts.
WildlifeNYC was launched last October to teach New Yorkers who to live responsibly alongside wild animals. Sightings of animals can be reported through the program website.