Park officials: We’ll save geese this time

Park officials: We’ll save geese this time
Community Newspaper Group / Stephen Brown

The goose population of Prospect Park has mostly rebounded from a federal massacre earlier this summer — but park officials now say they’ll control the bird’s numbers to avoid another feathery mass murder.

A committee of park administrators, birders, academics, environmentalists and Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) convened last month as part of a multi-faceted, long-term approach to controlling the bird population.

“We want to keep their numbers low enough so the feds don’t have to come back,” said Eugene Patron, a spokesman for Prospect Park.

The group convened under the behest of Tupper Thomas, the head of Prospect Park, who herself was opposed to the waterfowl wetworks, though she never spoke out against it. (See main story.)

To obviate a return visit by federal slaughterers, the committee will issue recommendations by the end of the year — and a first recommendation has already been put in place: signs discouraging parkgoers from feeding the birds.

It was only two months ago that agents from Wildlife Services, a division of the federal Department of Agriculture, entered Prospect Park under cover of darkness and corralled some 290 geese and their baby goslings. The agents then threw the birds in a gas chamber — a move that shocked the borough and reverberated throughout the nation.

Federal, city and state officials said the mass culling was necessary to ensure airline safety and prevent a disaster similar to the so-called Miracle on the Hudson, in which an airplane crash-landed on the Hudson River after colliding with a flock of geese in midair.

That justification was met with broad skepticism from environmentalists, as well as the various parties who attended last week’s meeting of the Wildlife Management Advisory Committee.

“[The culling] was hard to justify from their point of view,” said Patron, who hastened to add there were no aviation experts on the panel.

The committee will likely examine the destruction of goose eggs, called “egg addling,” as a humane method to control the geese population.

According to our own tally, the geese population has already passed 130 — up from the single digits in July.

Patron said that an education outreach program focused on the problems caused by feeding waterfowl would likely be a component of any recommendations by the committee as well.

The committee will convene one more time and then make a presentation to the public sometime before the end of the year, Patron said.

“We can’t guarantee the feds won’t come again,” he added, “but we got to do what we can.”

In hopes of forestalling another federal slaughter of the growing population of geese, Prospect Park officials are reaching out to park users to stop feeding the fowl.
Community Newspaper Group / Julie Rosenberg