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.