Now the Department of Sanitation is getting into the goose massacre business.
Ten months after federal agents slaughtered close to 300 Canada geese in Prospect Park, the city agency moved ahead to hire a well-paid biologist to “manage” waterfowl near New York airports — and the $175,000-per-year bird brain is from the same agency that was responsible for last year’s goosicide.
Officially, the Sanitation Department has posted a notice of intent to hire to hire a biologist from the United States Department of Agriculture to track “wildlife hazards,” in order to prevent “bird strikes” near LaGuardia and JFK airports.
But park devotees fear the city is gearing up for yet another massacre.
“It’s grim news for wildlife,” said Mary Beth Artz, who recently organized a rally to demand the city to allow its bird control contract with feds to expires on June 30. “It’s discouraging.”
The city was mum about the new biologist’s duties, but USDA staffers with the same title have trapped (in Cleveland, Ohio), tracked (in Juneau, Alaska) and killed birds with rifles (in Iraq) to keep fowl populations down near airports.
Matthew LiPani, a spokesman for the city, said a “panel of technical experts” — aviation officials among them — stressed the need for the new position in the wake of the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” landing in January, 2009, which may have been caused after a collision between geese and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s Airbus A320.
In the wake of that incident, the city exterminated waterfowl within a five-mile radius of both LaGuardia and JFK airports — a measure that was expanded last year to Prospect Park, more than seven miles from any runway, without public discussion, much to the horror of neighbors.
USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman declined to talk about the new job position, explaining the contract had not yet been signed.
But, in the past, she has said that when goose populations rise — there are now 193 geese Prospect Park — they must be controlled. “It isn’t the answer people want to hear, but when there are hundreds of birds, the risk [to airplanes] is higher,” she said.