Editorial: Fed geese slaughter was wrong

Stephen Brown — journalist of the year!
The Brooklyn Paper / Stephen Brown

The federal government’s slaughter of more than 250 geese in Prospect Park last week was a horrifying crime that not only calls into question our abilities as stewards of the earth, but also our core values as a species.

We would call the massacre “cruel and inhuman,” but, alas, its cruelty was all too human.

Mankind has long been accustomed to killing the so-called lower species, specifically when said species get in humanity’s way, as the geese did in this case. As urban dwellers, we have certainly participated in — and benefitted from — Man’s domination of the environment. We, too, have flown out of JFK Airport, getting to cruising altitude safely because no goose was sucked into the engines.

But there is a big difference between the unfortunate taking of animal life in order to create essential roads, bridges, subways, safe air corridors and other human “necessities,” and the senseless taking of animal life simply because we lack the will to choose a better way or the talents to find one.

And that’s the essential horror of what transpired in Prospect Park last week.

It’s particularly ironic, given that Prospect Park officials have been under fire for more than a year because of filthy conditions inside the greenspace and a recent spate of unexplained animal deaths. As a PR move, park officials showed off their proud flock to schoolkids — and our photographer — during a class trip last month, touting the lake as a living ecosystem.

All those geese are now dead.

Make no mistake, air passengers should be safe. But we find it simply incomprehensible that birds more than seven miles away from JFK Airport needed to be rounded up under cover of darkness, without so much as a word of public discussion, and gassed simply because other methods of pest control are more inconvenient or require more work on the part of humans.

Worse, the brutality took place inside the city’s greatest park, an urban oasis that was built partly to give city dwellers a place to reconnect, albeit nominally, with nature. Today, Prospect Park is a place where parents take their kids to watch the graceful flight of a swan, a bird alighting on a tree branch, or a turtle peeking out from its shell.

It chills the very soul to think that most of the birds fed by those very kids last week are now buried in an unmarked grave, victims of man’s need to dominate the world — and his clear failure to respect animal life, and himself, in the process.