According to Marion Renault of the Associated Press (AP), people were visiting the Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn, New York. As they were enjoying their visit, they witnessed a man coming up and dumping two garbage bags full of live eels into the lake.
One of the individuals who saw what happened is a music composer, Andrew Orkin. He was out for a run near the area when he watched as one of the two plastic bags was split open. The man was dragging them toward the edge of the water, and the eels spilled out on the ground.
Dominick Pabon is another witness who was fishing for catfish with his wife when he heard the man with the eels cry out, “I’m saving their lives!” People nearby started asking him what he was doing.
Pabon spoke to Curbed and said that in recent years, he has caught a few of those eels but they are not native to the area. He managed to capture a video of the event on his phone, according to a report from NBC New York.
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He can be heard on the video telling the man that dumping animals into the lake is illegal and that he could be killing other life by destroying the ecosystem.
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In a statement to NBC New York, the Prospect Park Alliance agreed with his assessment of the activity.
They said: “The release of pets and other animals in the park is illegal without a permit. It is a hazard both to those animals and the plants and wildlife that call the park home.”
According to a report from Brooklyn Paper, the fines for illegal dumping can range from $1,500 to $10,000 for the first violation and $5,000 to $20,000 for each additional violation.
When animals are set loose in the waterways and parks of New York, many will die quickly. Others will thrive and invasive species can cause a lot of damage. As an example, a popular type of pet turtle, the red-eared slider, has been a real problem in the ecosystem at New York parks. Many other types of turtles have been crowded out as a result of them being set free.
“People like animals and they sometimes think they’re doing a good thing by letting them go,” Jason Munshi-South, an urban ecologist at Fordham University, tells the AP. “Most will die. Some will become a problem, and then there’s no going back.”
Nobody is sure how this will affect the ecosystem in the long run. According to pictures, the bags were filled with small eels that are typically found in Southeast Asia.
In the spring, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation will look for those eels but they don’t think they will survive the winter. Even though that is the case, one freshwater ecologist from the University of Toronto, Nicholas Mandrak, said to the AP that they could have a short-term devastating effect on the ecosystem.
“We shouldn’t come to an immediate conclusion that because they’re found in Asia they couldn’t survive in New York City,” Munshi-South tells the AP.
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