City Salamander Hunt |

BY Ralph Gardner

Philip Montgomery | The Wall Street Journal

If you think it’s a challenge writing about a salamander hunt—though I realize I can only speak for myself—try writing about it after you arrive, only to discover that the hunt is over; you missed it. That was my situation on an otherwise balmy recent early fall afternoon when I reported to Inwood Hill Park, at the northern tip of Manhattan, only to learn that the kids, from the School at Columbia University, a K-8 private school, had thrown in the towel.

“They lost their attention span,” explained Kristy King, a research forester with the New York City Parks Department. “So they’re having run-around recess. I’m going to get the T-shirts.”

No need to apologize to me. I can understand how hunting salamanders might not be the most riveting assignment if you were raised in a world of Xbox and Avatar 3-D. Then again, it has to beat staying indoors and studying Latin, or whatever seventh-graders study these days.

The outing was part of a program involving students from seven local middle and high schools to compare redback salamander populations in six New York City parks—Van Cortlandt, Pelham Bay, Alley Pond, Forest, Inwood Hill, and Staten Island Greenbelt—to those in Black Rock Forest in Orange County.

Read more: City Salamander Hunt –

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