Pols to city: Don’t lower the goose noose

Park officials: We’ll save geese this time
Community Newspaper Group / Julie Rosenberg

Don’t kill our geese!

Four local pols demanded this week that the Bloomberg administration cancel its plans for a slaughter of hundreds of geese in Prospect Park this summer because park officials’ effort to humanely keep the goose population in check appears to be working.

“We are requesting that you … commit not to cull — or allow the Department of Agriculture to cull — the population of geese in Prospect Park, for at least the duration of 2011,” Councilmembers Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), Steve Levin (D–Park Slope) and Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) and Assemblyman James Brennan (D–Park Slope) wrote to Mayor Bloomberg on Monday. “We believe that the Park is acting proactively and responsibly here, taking responsibility, and implementing a humane plan to address the issue.”

The park’s “Wildlife Management Plan” was drafted in the weeks after the federal government slaughtered hundreds of geese last July in the name of aviation safety, even though the goose stomping grounds are further than seven miles from city airports — a distance that the city once said was enough to ensure airline security.

Since the slaughter, of course, hundreds of geese have returned to the lake in Prospect Park, worrying their fans that the federal government would again undertake a mass execution. Federal officials have kept their powder dry, saying only that the higher the number of geese, the more likelihood that a “culling” would be required.

A Bloomberg spokesman said that the city is “committed to a wildlife management program that protects the lives of the flying public.”

The spokesman, Jason Post, confirmed that by “public,” he meant “humans.”

“We value the lives of the people who are flying in airplanes more than the lives of the birds,” he said.

Post would not say when the city and its federal counterparts will decide if a goose slaughter will occur this summer, but said it would only be done “only if it is necessary.”

That answer will not likely satisfy the lawmakers, whose letter reminded the mayor that last year’s middle-of-the-night, unannounced gassing of more than 200 geese was an event that “shocked and upset … our constituents” and was unnecessary because “Prospect Park is more than nine miles from either Kennedy or LaGuardia airports.”

The Prospect Park Alliance-led bird management plan includes the destruction of some goose eggs and a ban on the feeding of geese. Future efforts include planting shrubs and tall grass to discourage geese from gathering, and calling in the dogs (literally) to scare the high-strung birds.

In an interview on Tuesday, Lander admitted that he isn’t sure if the humane methods are working, but, channeling the Beatles, he added, “All we are saying is give the Prospect Park Wildlife Management plan a chance.”

“It’s not fully implemented,” he added, “so we want it to have a chance to work. It’s great that Prospect Park did the work to develop the plan, to bring people together and I believe their plan deserves a chance. I don’t believe the right way is to round up and kill the geese.”

The politicians’ campaign came days after we reported that goose advocates had finalized a March 26 protest at the lakefront to demand an end to the killing. The “Hands Around the Lake” event will feature Lander and state Sen. Eric Adams (D–Park Slope), who was moved to tears at a vigil at the same site days after last year’s slaughter.

At the time, he vowed to “not let this happen again.”

“Geese do not need to adjust to us,” he said. “We have to adjust to them.”