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Meet the flockers! Two doomed geese show up from Canada

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Meet Prospect Park’s celebrity couple du jour — two geese with tags on their legs and targets on their heads.

The feathered squawkers flew all the way from Quebec to perch next to the park’s glistening lake — but their arrival only draws more attention to the likelihood that the duo and their new friends will be dead later this summer.

Roughly 162 geese now call the park home — up from zero after federal officials slaughtered about 250 in July — and as that number swells, wildlife advocates are getting nervous.

There is no precise “goose count” that would prompt another killing by the federal Department of Agriculture, said agency spokeswoman Carol Bannerman, but higher populations mean a greater threat to aviation.

“It isn’t the answer people want to hear — but when there are hundreds of birds, the risk [to airplanes] is higher,” she said.

In 2009, the agency exterminated waterfowl within a five-mile radius of both LaGuardia and JFK airports — a measure that was expanded to Prospect Park without public discussion last year and culminated in the July massacre.

Nonetheless, the number of geese has steadily increased, evidence that the slaughter was not necessary.

“You can’t get rid of them,” said Anne-Katrin Titze, a wildlife rehabilitator and waterfowl advocate. “It shows the futility of what happened last summer.”

One of the gregarious little squawkers — who is named Pierre and flew from Boucherville, Quebec — arrived solo on Jan. 28, sporting a peculiar orange necklace that reads “H9Z4.”

The other, an aloof female with a May birthday, appeared a few days later, wearing an anklet that reads, “1048-75724.” Park-lovers initially named the lady goose Jacques, until her sex was revealed, and she was renamed Jacqueline.

Both geese were tagged with silver web bands by researchers at the University of Quebec to track their survival in man-made habitat.

Bannerman said the banding is not linked to the Department of Agriculture’s efforts to control the population of wild geese in Prospect Park, and that there are no plans — yet — to gas them like last year.

But the swelling population, coupled with Bannerman’s suggestion that higher numbers of geese are a concern for aviation, prompted concern among the geese’s advocates.

And more geese are likely on the way. Man-made areas like Prospect Park are normally a perfect place for Canada geese, said Jean-Francois Giroux, a University of Quebec professor in charge of tracking Jacqueline, Pierre and the other 300 or so banded birds in his flock. “[They] can escape predators and graze in well-maintained grass.”

Giroux was, of course, speaking about natural predators, not humans.

After the outcry over last year’s killings, federal officials have discussed recommendations to control goose population in the park, although “no specifics” about the effort are available, Bannerman said.

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Reader Feedback

PattyA from Manhattan says:
A Canada goose with a leg band has also been spotted at Harlem Meer recently. (Her photo can be seen on this blog: http://talesamptailsofnewyork.blogspot.com/ )

Isn't it amazing the vast distances these birds can fly under the power of their own wings?

Thank you, Brooklyn Paper for recognizing the wonderment and value of these social and magnificent birds. Please keep up the good fight.

Many of us are depending on you for the full truth.
Feb. 15, 2011, 1:51 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Is anyone else noticing that the USDA seems to be giving out different stories?

According to Carol Bannerman of USDA, "There are no plans -- yet --to gas them (the geese) like last year."

But, according to the NY Times: "And so the Agriculture Department is gearing up for another round of goose removals this year, using new capturing techniques, focusing on more sites and extending the hunt beyond the molt season."

Could it be that the left hand doesn't know what the right one is doing?

Or, perhaps our officials are simply having a hard time getting their lies straight?

If you are going to lie, you need to have a good memory -- or at least know what your colleagues are saying to reporters.
Feb. 15, 2011, 2:17 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Has anyone else noticed that the USDA seems to be giving out different information?

According to Carol Bannerman of the USDA, "There are no plans -- yet -- to gas the geese like last year."

But, according to the NY Times, "And so the Agriculture Department is gearing up for another round of goose removals this year, using new capturing techniques, focusing on more sites and extending the hunt beyond the molt season."

So who is telling the truth or who is playing with words?

Instead of gassings, will our parks be turned into a shooting galleries this year or will the geese be rounded up and sent to slaughterhouses?

Or, perhaps the right hand simply doesn't know what left hand is doing or saying?

USDA needs to get its stories (or deceptions) straight.
Feb. 15, 2011, 2:27 am
Liz from Park Slope says:

Harriet, they are geese.
Feb. 15, 2011, 9:31 am
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
Geese are a non-native invasive species w/o a natural predator to ck pop growth. They degrade & deny environments for native species, severly damage flora, foul public spaces, & create noise pollution. Geese are therefore vermin subject to control & reduction for public safety & health.
Feb. 15, 2011, 9:44 am
John McHugh from Prospect-Lefferts says:
From what I understand, the city's contract with USDA runs through June of 2011 and they can come in at anytime to do the deed.

Doubtful they will sound the alarm to the community before they do it.
Feb. 15, 2011, 9:48 am
J from Brooklyn says:
"Roughly 162 geese now call the park home"

This sounds like Anne-Katrin's number and it is about double the actual amount of geese currently in the park.
Feb. 15, 2011, 10:11 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
how do they taste?
Feb. 15, 2011, 10:25 am
Harrison from Park Slope says:
J, who are you and are you in Prospect Park 24/7? Trying to discredit when you do not even have credibility. You sound clueless.
For the Prospect Park/Audubon Christmas Bird count the Canada Geese numbered over 300.
Feb. 15, 2011, 10:28 am
Christine from Windsor Terrace says:
The cowardly slaughter of the resident Canada Geese of Prospect Park and the attempt at a cover up was a disgrace.
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:03 am
Barbara from Windsor Terrace says:
@Ohio Orrin-

Geese cause Noise pollution?
Since when?

The sound of approaching geese flying LOW overhead is way better than the aircraft that fly LOWER and LOWER over my head all day long.
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:14 am
John from Park Slope says:
There were only 250 to 300 resident Canada Geese in a 585 acre Prospect Park in 2010.
It is pathetic that so-called experts try to claim that these resident geese were or any future geese are, a danger to air travel.
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:17 am
Bonita from Los Angeles says:
Rounding geese up systematically for slaughter is brutal and ignorant. Of coarse it is not going to improve the safety of airline travel, but sometimes people loose there ability to think rationally. Let's follow these two Quebecois as they navigate the spring in the US.
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:40 am
Carlton from Park Slope says:
Now that we know what happened in 2010, I expect every Prospect Park Alliance employee to speak out against killings in 2011.

THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO REMAIN SILENT -
Feb. 15, 2011, 11:58 am
Walter from Windsor Terrace says:
Shhame, shame, shame on those who remain silent, while there is a threat that another slaughter will occur inside Prospect Park.
Feb. 15, 2011, 12:11 pm
Kim from Park Slope says:
This is not a numbers game. What we know is those in power acted cowardly and dishonestly when the truth came out.
The leadership of the Prospect Park Alliance must make a stand and stop acting helpless. Park lovers have very little trust left for you, when you wrongfully allowed helpless birds who called Prospect Park their home to be killed.
Feb. 15, 2011, 12:38 pm
Jeanine Terrula from Brooklyn says:
The community will not stand for this again. Prospect Park is in the global spotlight after last year's slaughter.

This would be a great opportunity for them to stand firm with their community in opposition to any more round ups by the USDA.

and that would untimately lead to more funding.
Feb. 15, 2011, 1:43 pm
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
barb - the military uses guard geese due to their loud honking when disturbed. yes, noise pollution along w all the problems associated w any non-native, invasive species w/o a natural predator. they should be killed & the meat used to feed the homeless.
Feb. 16, 2011, 9:46 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Orrin:

"Noise pollution?"

Geese are waterfowl and live on and near park lakes. So, unless someone has pitched a tent to live right next to the geese, it is hard to understand how goose honks might bother someone.

Utterly amazing that any New Yorker could complain about noisy geese in a city where our ears are assaulted continuously by traffic, sirens, airliners, subways, etc., etc,.

As for the charge about geese being "invasive," they are native to whatever areas have water and grass. The name, "Canada geese" has nothing to do with the country up north.

Since the geese seem to be the punching bags for whatever ails us, I am surprised that they haven't been blamed for the fact leaves tumble from trees in the fall.

Guess that will be next.
Feb. 16, 2011, 11:39 am
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
In recent years, Canada Geese populations in some areas have grown substantially, so much so that many consider them pests (for their droppings, the bacteria in their droppings, noise and confrontational behavior). This problem is partially due to the removal of natural predators and an abundance of safe, man-made bodies of water (such as on golf courses, public parks and beaches, and in planned communities).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Goose
Feb. 16, 2011, 3:56 pm
Kent from Windsor Terrace says:
Orrin, since you're a member of the Brooklyn Bird Club your ignorance is disturbing. We don't need another zombie-like birder making irrational pronouncements filled with hatred.
Feb. 16, 2011, 6:57 pm
marshall from park slope says:
I heard that the brooklyn bird club is run by the prospect park alliance. These birders are the ones spreading the propaganda to get rid of the resident canada geese.
Feb. 16, 2011, 7:02 pm
Carolyn from Kensington says:
I see the comment about confrontational in the above comment.

We have been taking our children to the park to see the geese, ducks and other wildlife- we don't feed them but do enjoy observing them and never once have we seen them to be confrontational-

unless of course you disturb them during their nesting periods and raising their goslings as which time they cannot fly as they are molting- I would be confrontational too!

There have been no documented cases of disease being transmitted to humans with the droppings- quite honestly, I'd be more worried about human and dog waste.

Yes, no natural predators to speak of because habitats are dwindling and the only safe places they can find are man-made. We are removing natural habitats at an alarming rate to satisfy the human population explosion.

Question to Orinn- Are only "exotic" and rarely seen birds entitled to living freely?

I intend to keep teaching my children that all wildlife matters and have rights.
Feb. 16, 2011, 7:13 pm
Gretchen from Windsor Terrace says:
Orrin sounds like a bitter old man who's confused. The birders of Prospect Park who justify hating the geese are a sorry bunch of losers. Some of the men walking around with their binoculars look inept and like they are desperate for attention.
Feb. 16, 2011, 7:23 pm
L.A. says:
I miss Beaky...
Feb. 16, 2011, 8:14 pm
jpe from park slope says:
"THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO REMAIN SILENT -"

I guess you're right. I think I'll email the parks department and tell them to go ahead and cull. Geese are pests.
Feb. 16, 2011, 8:34 pm
Charles from PPSW says:
Geese are pests? I find incredible joy visiting the lake ad seeing all the wildlife that Prospect Park is so lucky to have.

It is Bloomturd's fault- wanting to fill his cronie's pockets with ka-ching..

Airline safety???? such bs.
Feb. 16, 2011, 9:21 pm
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
I hunt, kill, & eat geese annually (along w other waterfowl like duck). Other than hunters, geese have no predator & their pop grows to consume, degrade, & destroy natural habitats. I fully support controlling their pop thru hunting & removal as necessary.
Feb. 17, 2011, 10:05 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Orin:

When you say, "removal" are you referring to Disneyworld?

The geese aren't "removed" and sent to happily ever afters.

368 flightless geese from PP were rounded up, feet bound, stuffed into crates and trucked to Kennedy Airport last summer for gassings.

If there was anything at all "humane" or constructive about this operation, why do you think it was done with such carefully guarded secrecy?

Fact is, the geese can take UP TO AN HOUR TO DIE IN GAS CHAMBERS. They flap wings and thump feet against gas chamber walls in desperate, but futile attempt to escape.

Is this the kind of behavior you think befitting a society calling itself "humane" and "civilized?"

The geese come in peace and we deal nothing but war against them.

Something is wrong with that picture as well the perpetrators of the henious deeds know -- otherwise, they would not go to such great lengths to hide and lie about it.
Feb. 17, 2011, 11:04 am
Jerome from Windsor Terrace says:
Where is the response from the Brooklyn Bird Club president to idiots like Orrin a Brooklyn Bird Club member? A self described hater of FIDO.

Oh, wait a second, he is one the idiots too who wants to get rid of the resident Canada Geese of Prospect Park because he is a loyal Prospect Park Alliance paid employee.
Feb. 17, 2011, 11:06 am
Karl from Kensington says:
Dear PattyA - You should be writing to the Brooklyn Bird Club. Their blog is on the prospectpark.org address

See what these so called birders have to say about the bird killings.

MUTE AS USUAL
Feb. 17, 2011, 12:35 pm
Walker from Greenwood says:
Hey Orrin, why don't you try chasing the geese away from Prospect Park yourself you old fool.
Feb. 17, 2011, 12:56 pm
robert from windsor terrace says:
The Brooklyn Bird Club encourages your comments, suggestions, and inquiries.

For general information or suggestions about the Brooklyn Bird Club, or trip or meeting planning, email info@brooklynbirdclub.org.

For inquiries concerning membership status, benefits, or to become a member, email membership@brooklynbirdclub.org. You can also print out a membership form to mail here

To submit articles or information to our quarterly newsletter, the Clapper Rail, email clapper_rail@brooklynbirdclub.org.
Feb. 17, 2011, 1:04 pm
OhioOrrin from Wburg says:
1) Ur assumptions about me r amusing!
2) Im 31. Is that old?
3) Im not a member of that club.
4) I never wrote or suggested that geese should be gassed. On the contrary, I support humane harvesting to feed the homeless.
5) Ive hunted water fowl for 20 yrs.
6) Geese will continue to be hunted & controlled in all states as in NY.
7) Im used to folks too far removed fm the food chain.
7) Ive not posted juvenile ad hom attacks.
Thank you
Feb. 17, 2011, 1:25 pm
George from WT says:
Age has nothing to do with thinking like an old fool.
Feb. 17, 2011, 1:44 pm
Joan from Park Slope says:
Orrin, you could try dating PattyA. Your description of yourself looks like a desperate plea for romance.
See you around the lake.
Feb. 17, 2011, 1:58 pm
Catherine from Prospect Heights says:

Bloomberg needs to cancel his contract with the USDA.
Feb. 17, 2011, 2:08 pm
Michael/Grace from Park Slope says:
Catherine, we agree
Feb. 17, 2011, 2:13 pm
PattA from Manhattan says:
Critical Event for March 26th at Prospect Park:

"Hands Around the Lake" is a symbolic gathering of people to stand up for the wildlife in our parks. Though a serious event to address the problems plaguing animals in our parks, (from animal mutilations, to goose gassings, to birds caught in fishing line to environmental pollution via BBQ coals) its main focus is to be positive in terms showing PP, the city and the USDA how many people love and CARE about protecting the wildife in our parks.

We will need many people to attend this event, as well as to help out in making this a powerful and meaningful statement for the animals.

For more information, please go to and join our special FB page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=138907256129160
Feb. 18, 2011, 11:13 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
It is sad when we look at animals only from the utilitarian point of what the animals can do for us (in terms of ego, prestige or the multitude of ways we abuse and kill them) as opposed to what we can do for them as stewards of the planet.

JFK made that point well when talking about country.

Unfortunately, its a point we have seemingly gotten far away from.

Why can't we just appreciate and respect animals for their own sake and in their own right? Why can't we leave the geese in peace even when their presence does not immediately benefit us either materially or in terms of use or ego?

There are more things in this life of importance aside from personal egos or material goods.

For many of us, the geese and other animals benefit us spiritually.

Its hard to understand the seeming hatred against those creatures who are not directly under our control or who do not live by our dictates and demands.

That of course is true of the independent, freedom loving, proud, protective and regal geese.

It is hoped that many will come to the lake at Prospect Park on March 26th to simply say, "Hey, we like the asthetic value the geese bring to our park. We want them to be protected and respected. We want them to be around for our grandkids to see and enjoy one day."
Feb. 18, 2011, 11:57 am
Kathleen Walker from Bay Ridge says:
This is so sad. It's pathetic that "experts" cannot come up with a better idea than murder of innocent, beautiful animals. Who are the "experts",who are the "administators"? Does the World Wildlife Federation or NY Zoological Society know about this? In 2011, I would hope with all of our technology and scientific advances,that our society would be able to come up with a more humane solution over slaughter. i will continue to follow this story and thankn you for your public display of Humanity.
Feb. 18, 2011, 12:57 pm
Brett from Downtown Bkln says:
These geese ravage grass, defecate absolutely everywhere, and are a danger to air travel. Would rats get the same protection if they migrated and had pretty markings?
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Dec. 13, 2011, 2:49 am
JQ from Red Hook says:
Orrin, really? Invasive, no natural preditors, destroy natural habitat, bacteria in their droppings, noise and confrontational behavior?

Sounds like the description of WBurg yuppies and hipsters (approx 31 years of age)!

In my youth a hunter, I gave it up for a more rewarding approach, like raising a stranded canadian chick to adult hood, and this summer nursing a starving adult female Canadia with a wounded leg back to health - back to the wild (while my childern 9 & 13 watched/helped).

I'm hoping that a project I'm involved with in Red Hook will yeild a portion of Park to become what I wish to call "Goose-Coon Park" to respect the Geese and Racoons unnessessarly slautered in Brooklyn. Such would create a small wetland like that which existed here before man, when the area was the animals natural habitat/home.
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