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March 27, 2011 / Brooklyn news / Meadows of Shame

Goose lovers to Bloomy: Don’t you dare come for our birds

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Save the geese!

About 130 people — sentimental politicians, vegan chefs, precocious fifth graders among them — flooded the park to send city honchos a message: When you mess with Brooklyn wildlife, you mess with Brooklynites.

The “Hands Around the Lake” event was as much a political call to arms as it was a heartfelt love-letter to the feathered creatures who last summer were slaughtered in the name of aviation safety.

“We’re here to send the message to Mayor Bloomberg: Stop the slaughter of New York City’s geese,” said rally organizer Mary Beth Artz, who encouraged participants to flood the mayor’s Facebook and Twitter pages with comments.

The “visual statement” — which culminated in a human chain partly around the Prospect Park lake — was meant to voice opposition to a still-active city contract with the Department of Agriculture, the federal agency that exterminated hundreds of geese last July in a secret, middle-of-the-night gassing.

Officials now say that, as goose population nears the 200 mark, another “culling” will be likely necessary. As of last week, goose count had hit 180.

Speakers had personal reasons as to why a second slaughter would be especially repugnant: State sen. Eric Adams (D–Park Slope) recalled “courting his first love” while gazing at Prospect Park geese; fifth-grader Orlando Cole-Gorton proclaimed,“Geese were flying over rivers before airplanes existed”; Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) confessed the squawkers were her only friends when she was “a cross-eyed, ugly duckling” child.

“It’s arrogant for humans to believe this planet was made just for humans,” Adams said, prompting a spirited, “that’s right!” and “yes!” from the crowd. “These birds give us more than what we give them; we have an obligation and a responsibility to protect them.”

James added, “Mayor Bloomberg should be ashamed of himself.”

Supporters — some serious, others light-hearted — even channelled the 1960s by transforming John Lennon’s legendary peace anthem into, “Give Geese a Chance” (though a few hipsters cringed).

Others held signs emblazoned with an image of a crying goose that read, “Keep them flying, not dying.” Meanwhile, the owners of the restaurant Verile passed out vegan snacks.

Representatives from The Humane Society, along with Friends of Animals also spoke — but it wasn’t just the animal rights set who braved the frigid weather to gush over geese.

Flatbush resident Jake Gold summed things up this way: “Geese are part of this community. A giant killing of them is just messed up.”

There is still a chance to avoid another mass slaughter. The city’s contract with the USDA expires on June 30, but it will likely be re-signed. In hopes of avoiding another slaughter, the Prospect Park Alliance is trying to control the goose population by destroying goose eggs before embryos can form, deploying bird-chasing dogs, and discouraging park-goers from feeding the fowl.

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Reader Feedback

Andre from Flatbush says:
The speakers were informative and moving, and the delicious food was generously donated by Vérité Catering (a new vegan catering company-spelled incorrectly above). I hope that the success of this event reflects the success with the treatment of these geese!
March 27, 2011, 11:18 am
King Kong from Flatbush says:
Jake Gold is sooo HOT!!!! I wish I was there eating the free Verile food. After you eat it do you become virile?
March 27, 2011, 12:45 pm
Julia from Crown Heights says:
With all the clout the Humane Society of The United States & Friends of Animals have, the best they could achieve was only 130 persons?... How sad!... But, then, what can one expect from organizations that did nothing other than to show-up?

It seems to me that, were the initiative for an effective showing left in the hands of creative locals, the turn-out would have been far better. As it is, all that was accomplished was to give both [the HSUS, & FoA] bragging rights to enhance their own fund raising efforts.

Also, given the fact that the geese are outside of the established area, & given the fact that it's becoming more realistic to attribute the downing of the miracle plane to engine failure, why aren't the HSUS & FoA joining forces to sue the City for, at least, a stay of execution? Individually, both have better resources than any coalition of private citizens. Individually, both have well established name recognition. Imagine what could be accomplished if they combined?

Where's the concerted effort?
March 27, 2011, 5:12 pm
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Julia: The crowd was pretty good considering the temperature was only in the 30's and the subway system is screwed up on weekends. People coming from Manhattan, for example, had several train switches to get to Prospect Park.

Keep in mind too, that large organizations like HSUS and FOA work on many animal cruelty issues. And though they have name recognition, it's not a matter that they have thousands of people either working for them or at their beck and call.

Community members have to ultimately carry the ball on local issues like this and be willing to speak out and be visible for the geese and other wildlife in our city parks.

Thank you for pointing out that flight 1549 had engine problems before it left the airport that day to ultimately collide with geese and land in the Hudson.

Blaming geese for our own mechanical deficiences and/or human errors is unconsciousable.
March 27, 2011, 6:35 pm
Elizabeth from Manhattan says:
@Julia,
You are mistaken, it wasn't sad, but a wonderful gathering of a great community of people who care.
Sorry you were not able to join us.

And what, may I ask, have you done to help the geese other than criticize those who actually do.
March 27, 2011, 8:48 pm
Kevin from Park Slope says:
Julia, I have to I agree with Elizabeth. It is very easy to criticize and tell people what they ought to be doing. If you are so concerned why don't you take up the cause and do it. It's too bad that you weren't there yesterday to engage those people from those organizations. It seems like that would have been the perfect opportunity. And it should be noted and credit should be given that the event was organized not by those organizations but by an individual, Mary Beth Artz. You could do well by following her lead and taking an initiative.
March 27, 2011, 9:32 pm
BB from Windsor Terrace/Kensington says:
It's important to remember that these geese are not a threat to air traffic. They don't migrate- they fly from Propspect Park lake to the lake in Green-wood, a few blocks away.
March 28, 2011, 12:34 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Another note to Julia --

WHAT AND WHERE WERE YOU?
March 28, 2011, 12:59 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
And - Julia -- and anyone else who happened to be unaware of the situation -- One of the leading animal conservation and advocacy groups - In Defense of Animals -- is organizing today (Monday, March 28) as an on-line demonstration to protect Canada Geese.

Here is their link:
http://www.idanews.org/ida-breaking-news/idas-day-of-online-action-for-nycs-canada-geese/

To make it short & sweet - log on to facebook, go to Mayor Bloomberg FB page, click on "like" (even if you don't happen to "like" Mayor Bloomberg) and then you can hit "reply" on any of the posted comments. Unfortunately the mayor has restricted his FB site (no surprise) so that no community member or constituent can actually post on his "wall" -- so he has made it impossible for our voice to be heard.

The only way around this is to hit "reply" on any of his current posts. It may seem odd, but this is just one way for the mayor to be contacted.

You can also twitter him once you click "follow" - the same rule applies. You have to reply to any of his current "tweets."

You can also just go to his official home page and post a comment - which is limited to 300 words, but is also effective.

That link is

http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.bd08ee7c7c1ffec87c4b36d501c789a0/index.jsp?doc_name=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Fmail%2Fhtml%2Fmayor.html
March 28, 2011, 1:04 pm
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Wonderful suggestions from Johanna.

It is also important to call 311 and register a complaint regarding the city's goose gassing contract with USDA.

The contract is still in effect until the end of June. It then comes up for renewal.

That means that potentially thousands of more geese can be rounded up and gassed throughout the city even before the first fireworks of July 4th!

And then a new killing contract could be signed.

The mayor and other city leaders have to know that civilized New Yorkers OPPOSE this brutal massacre of city park wildlife at a cost of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.

Make your voice heard!
March 28, 2011, 2:11 pm
Ditmas Deb from Ditmas Park says:
So, Julia, do you actually work for the Bloomberg Administration? Or are you just a person who'd rather make a complaining comment than get out of bed on a cold morning to actually DO something. Yes, movements start small. Then, they grow. And, by the way, I was there and I thought the numbers were closer to 200. And it was an incredible educational experience - I and several others taught a lot of kids about the geese, swans, ducks, etc., who inhabit our park.
March 28, 2011, 2:43 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
I'd be very surprised if Yutzberg actually monitored his
own Facebook and Twitter accounts. He's probably got a dweeb on his payroll to handle his "social networking"
crap.
March 28, 2011, 2:56 pm
Julia from Crown Heights says:
It should be noted that at no time did I say that I wasn't there. Some of you seem to be working on an assumption.
Not once did I criticize the private persons or activists who did show-up. Neither did I suggest that the effort was mis-guided.
Also, to the person who suggested that I might be working for the Bloomberg administration, not once did I suggest that the geese should be killed, or that I am in support of the current mayor's stance on their slaughter.

What I am saying is that the HSUS has a history of claiming success on the backs of smaller groups of persons who actually do lead the charge & do the grunt work that makes most initiatives successful.
As for FoA... Please! [Frankly, I'm amazed that the organization was even allowed to be represented at the same time, in the same place as the HSUS. Aren't they afraid they'd get cooties? But, then, if you want their involvement, mention the HSUS or, worse, PeTA.]

If they are truly interested in substantive change, let the active/concerned persons do the demonstrations, the community consciousness raising, the letter writing, the publicizing. But then get these 2 major animal organizations to work the legal end.

Finally, N.B.: None of the above is to be critical of HSUS or FoA representatives who did attend. They can only go as far as their corporate bosses will allow.
March 28, 2011, 3:25 pm
Jack McHugh from Bergen Beach says:
Have to agree with Ditmas Deb. It was an eye opener. I learned alot. Was cool to have alot of different people there.

Julia, I look forward to your rally.
March 28, 2011, 4:17 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Julia - thanks for the clarification. I agree that the larger groups need to put legal muster into this issue but the protest organized by Mary Beth was offered as an opportunity to be visible in supporting those sorts of efforts.

The problem with this issue is that we are not really dealing with local government. It is the USDA's "wildlife services" agency -- an Orwellian term if ever there was one -- as they are responsible for "assessing" and justifying mass-extermination of thousands of our treasured wildlife -- nation-wide. If you would like more info on that -- here is a link to the recent article run in New York Magazine:
http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/topic/67410/
You can see that the USDA is the "hit man" for millions of animals -- where they are the most vulnerable across our country - out where they "live" (tenuously at best) near agriculture.
The Federal govt is to blame for these mass "cullings" -- So we need an organized effort to get to the USDA.
I don't know the best way forward, but anyone reading this, hopefully, can be a bit more knowledgeable in the source of the problem and start thinking of solutions.
March 28, 2011, 4:22 pm
Rina Deych, RN from Boro Park says:
I think 130 was an underestimation. It seemed more like 200 people... which was, frankly, pretty amazing considering the cold temperatures. Thank you to Mary Beth Artz for doing an amazing job in organizing this event! And thank you to each and every person who attended! It was great to see all of you! Now, on to Mayor Bloomberg's Facebook page to leave some more comments...
March 28, 2011, 8:55 pm
:Bonita from Los Angeles says:
So nice to see all the brooklynites standing up for what is humane and good in this world. Not to mention the ignorance of a slaughter policy that makes no rational sense.....Thanks to all who fight for the preservation of our beautiful parks!!
April 3, 2011, 5:56 pm

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