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July 29, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Meadows of Shame

News analysis: Inside the feds’ blood lust for geese

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The federal government approach toward geese became “more aggressive” — and more lethal — in the days after the so-called Miracle on the Hudson, resulting in the exclusion of animal experts from the decision-making process and setting the stage for the execution of thousands of waterfowl.

Prior to Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s lauded crash landing on the Hudson River, the city had used a mix of lethal and non-lethal measures to control the exploding goose population near airports.

But geese were not routinely slaughtered beyond that close range.

That all changed after investigators blamed migratory geese for the plane’s engine failure — leading to a widespread cry from laymen and the media for goose eradication.

At that point, “the Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services [became] more aggressive, and more effective, than the variety of non-lethal measures that had been used at both airports for many years,” said Bryan Swift, the leader of the game bird unit for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

That aggressive plan was expanded this year to include geese populations seven miles away from city airports, leading to the much-condemned killing of some 290 birds in Prospect Park.

But as in any war, one of the casualties is the truth. In this case, dialogue between government officials and animal experts was lost in the bloodlust.

Experts from the two organizations most actively involved in pre-crash discussions with goose policy makers — Geese Peace and the Humane Society of the United States — say they have barely spoken to government agencies since the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

“We are sick and tired of hearing them claim to have included us in the process” of goose control, said Laura Simon, the urban wildlife director with the Humane Society. “We’re very frustrated. They have not included us in the decision-making process.”

The president of Geese Peace, an organization that has orchestrated non-lethal programs in two dozen cities around the country, including the capital of New Jersey, similarly scoffed at the notion of any dialogue with government officials.

“We’re only in regular contact in the sense that we’re constantly telling them they’re wrong [and] them not listening to us,” said David Feld, the president of Geese Peace.

Simon said the Humane Society had not been included in any deliberations on goose policy since the crash landing. Feld said he had attended one meeting, which did not go well.

The various government agencies in the committee that ordered the culling say that outside experts were consulted while determining the best measures to control the geese population, which has grown to around 20,000 in the greater Metropolitan Area, according to the state environmental agency — a number often cited as justification for the culling.

But both Simon and Feld insist that goose mass murder is actually ineffective in improving air safety, and that measures such as egg destruction and habitat modification — making an area look less inviting to geese — are critical to managing the bird population.

“Many of the geese wouldn’t have even hatched if they’d followed the egg-addling program we recommended,” said Simon. “The killing of geese is a waste of taxpayer money and animal lives — and it’s not making people safer!”

Feld agreed.

“Go to any place where they’ve done roundups, and the geese are back, and then they just end up having to do it again,” Feld said.

Swift conceded that goose mitigation plans have thus far not been effective overall, since the population of the birds has grown in the state from 137,000 in 1999 to a whopping 257,000 in spring of this year, according to him.

During that time, bird strikes against aircraft are actually down, a tribute to better mitigation methods in the immediate vicinity of airports, experts said.

The city claims it is listening to outside experts.

“The committee was, and still is, aware of the breadth of opinions on bird-reduction strategies as the city has discussed its efforts with the Humane Society and Geese Peace,” said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “The USDA is also in regular contact with Geese Peace and a member of the Humane Society sits on the USDA’s National Wildlife Service Advisory Committee.”

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Reader Feedback

Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Geese produce a lot of methane, which causes climate change, global warming, and other hoax-based frauds.

So, are you sure you're against humanely putting the geese to sleep? Ya sure? (Even if jet disasters don't move your heart?)
July 29, 2010, 8:33 am
J from WT says:
RALLY IN NYC
CITY HALL-
Thursday, August 12th at 12:00pm -NOON- to promote the Humane Treatment of the Canada Geese. Pass the word!

Hmmm..There are how many geese back by lake?...
Wow, The gassing really worked.....

They wouldn't listen, would they?
July 29, 2010, 9:47 am
Jen Jie from South Slope says:
USDA and NY State has plans to kill off 2/3 of NY State's total Canada geese population and approx 1/2 of ALL geese throughout the Mid-Atlantic region (see NY Times article July 23). Prospect Park is just the beginning. This would be called genocide if done to our own species. I cannot understand how anyone would think it's OK to do it to another species. These wild birds have as much right to live as any other creatures on this earth.
July 29, 2010, 10:20 am
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Jen Jie from South Slope, voilà your problem: you think humans aren't more important than animals. You are sick.
July 29, 2010, 11:15 am
A O from BKLYN says:
It’s called an eco system people And we messed it up this is how we rebalance the eco system since geese no longer have as many predators
July 29, 2010, 12:02 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Yes, we messed it up with our abundance of food (seriously, not being sarcastic). Same effect on sea gulls, except, apparently, they don't fly into jet planes...
July 29, 2010, 1:24 pm
James from W'burg says:
Geese cause methane causes global warming causes geese to die. KILL THE ORIGINAL GEESE.
July 29, 2010, 4:04 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Just astonishing how many adult-children are out there. Hey, one's even President.
July 29, 2010, 5:18 pm
Carl from Kensington says:
Peeps,
There is NO justification to inhumanely slaughter any living being in the manner they were suffed out- PERIOD!

They needed to manage the problem they created and it wasn't done. 'nuf said.
July 30, 2010, 10:44 am
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Carl from Kensington, what about the humane slaughter? And how do you know CO2 isn't? It's probably a lot more pleasant than what goes on in a slaughterhouse...
July 30, 2010, 2:46 pm
Carl from Kensington says:
Steven, I think you get my drift, Slaughter of any kind- unacceptable-
July 30, 2010, 3:24 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
No, gratuitous slaughter or harm to animals is unacceptable. When push comes to shove, the animals get slaughtered. Humans > animals.
July 30, 2010, 11:50 pm
Priscilla Feral from Metro NY says:
What's next,an assault on migratory swans to prevent any bird from flying over New York? Mayor Bloomberg's suggestion that the choice is Canada geese or people is manipulative and
politically motivated. Geese are flightless 4-6 weeks each summer; that's when the USDA takes advantage of them being in one place. None of these killings increase air safety, and the Humane Society and Geese Peace are dead wrong about imposing birth control on geese and other free-living animals.

What's needed is for bureaucrats to halt their own knee-jerk reactions. One can't rid the skies of birds, plus geese in parks are irrelevant to airline safety.

Priscilla Feral, President
Friends of Animals
www.friendsofanimals.org
Aug. 2, 2010, 12:33 pm

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