July 13, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Meadows of Shame

OUTRAGE! Park lovers furious over goose slaughter

The Brooklyn Paper
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Prospect Park was in mourning on Tuesday, as Brooklynites wrestled with the horrifying news that around 250 geese had been sent to the gas chamber to protect airplanes flying thousands of feet overhead.

As parkgoers strolled by the lake completely devoid of geese, they struggled to reconcile their love for wildlife with the need for air safety.

“It’s appalling how it was done — gassing the geese,” said Brian Wood, who was snapping photos of ducks by the boat house. “I guess I never thought about how they would go about it.”

Others believed that there had to be an alternative solution that would have avoided so much bloodshed.

“It’s tragic,” said Ella Oblas. “I’m sure there are animal rights groups that could have found another place to put the geese.”

But the prolific poopers are now in the bottom of an unmarked, feathery mass grave in an undisclosed location, thanks to the startling culling that went down last Thursday morning.

Agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture were able to easily herd the birds into a pen because they are molting and cannot fly. The geese were then boxed up and thrown a gas chamber filled with carbon dioxide.

Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for Wildlife Services, the agency that carried out the grim work, said the birds die within five minutes.

The killings were part of a citywide plan to exterminate the birds within seven miles of airports — a policy provoked by the so-called Miracle in the Hudson, in which an airplane was forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River after flying through a flock of migrating geese near LaGuardia Airport.

But Glenn Phillips, the executive director of New York City Audubon — and one of the founders of the Prospect Park Audubon Center — said that the drastic measure to eliminate the geese is actually ineffective.

The reality is that this is a wild goose chase,” said Phillips, ignoring the obvious pun. “The goose population is so robust in the northeastern US that we will be right back where we were in Prospect Park [before the culling] in four or five years.”

Phillips added that “lethal control” of the geese population should only be used as a last resort, and that it hasn’t been proven that killing geese improves air safety.

“You have to deal with the habitat issues,” Phillips said. “People have this — geese like lawns near water and people do too.”

But the shores of Prospect Park lake are not going to be the same for a long time — and for at least one park-goer, neither will air travel.

“It’s depressing, but people should be aware of the consequences of flying,” he said. “It’s like knowing where your chicken comes from — it might come from some horrible factory.”

He added, “I’m sure the next time I fly out of JFK, I’ll be thinking about it.”

For one pre-school teacher, Lynnette Arthur, the news of the massacre was especially difficult because she had created an entire curriculum at based on the waterfowl of Prospect Park — even going so far as to take the four- and five-year-olds on field trips from the New Beginning Nursery in Manhattan to the park, where the “Pond Patrol” of youngsters would hand out pamphlets encouraging people to not litter.

“I couldn’t bear to tell the kids — I think their little hearts would break,” said Arthur. “I’m sure there would be some tears.”

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Mary Beth from Windsor Terrace says:
Truly heartbreaking- that we could betray such innocent creatures in the way we have. Even sadder that the skies are now silent of the beings who were meant to fly.
July 13, 2010, 10:46 am
John from PS says:
Oh come on!

I'm a dedicated environmentalist but population control is an authentic ecological theme: because those birds are able to prosper without their natural predators and the abundant human based grass fields, we needed to find a solution. I agree with you it does not sound right but we need sometimes to control excess and this time it is for you safety (or maybe you would like a 747 on top of your apartment)
July 13, 2010, 10:57 am
Mr Pilot from Bay Ridge says:
Prospect Park is a main Nav. point for LA GUARDIA airport. If your landing on runway 4 or 31, your flying over Prospect Park. It's sad but it had to be done. But I do think this program would have been more logical in Flushing Bay and Jamaica Bay...
July 13, 2010, 11:03 am
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
Mr. Pilot, do Canada-Brooklyn Geese enjoy salty water? Is it possible that the tap water of Prospect Park's lakes are especially attractive to geese?

Yes, this is only a comments thread, isn't it possible that the geese were dealt with for good reason?
July 13, 2010, 11:10 am
richie rich from parkslope says:
karma baby,,,,wait and see.
July 13, 2010, 11:23 am
tRACI from Kensington says:
I grew up feeding the ducks, swans and geese in Prospect Park (admittedly, more geese as of late), but wasn't there a better solution? Why couldn't they send the geese to another area?
July 13, 2010, 11:24 am
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
tRACI from Kensington, because the idea is to have fewer geese to breed, as well as presently strike jets.

Stop thinking exclusively with your heart, please. If you don't, we are all doomed.
July 13, 2010, 11:29 am
al pankin from downtown says:
this is good news, I can't figure out what took the authories so long.
it's better to have dead geese than dead people.
let's hope that next time it won't take so long. it was a miracle that no one was killed when the plane had to land in the hudson river.
July 13, 2010, 12:01 pm
Michele from Park Slope says:
We are doomed because we doom ourselves...animal populations are suffering because we, humans, have altered the ecosystem. Perhaps the same method used to control the geese should be used on we continue to defile and disrespect the environment. Hey, maybe we can start with the hundreds of Prospect Park visitors who trash the place during major holiday, there's environmental control.
July 13, 2010, 12:01 pm
JG from Red Hook says:
People fail to realize that it was us who invaded the territory of these geese. Sad to think how we eliminated them for the pleasure of flying from point A to point B... USDA should be ashamed of themselves....hello people, we don't have to fly, we choose to.
July 13, 2010, 12:03 pm
Rellim from Gowanus says:
There's an awful lot of whining about "this matter should have resolved in a more-civilized way!” and "wasn't there a better solution?", with no mention of any other solutions.

While I do agree that a more long term solution that would deter geese from establishing a home in the park would be more ideal, the closest thing in there is "I’m sure there are animal rights groups that could have found another place to put the geese.”

That's not even close to a solution - it's just pointing to some other group and saying "gee, couldn't they have done something that would offend me less?"

Someone had to do something, and I don't see any other great ideas here (an no, I'm not limiting "something" to an act against the geese... faa could have done something to change courses too - but I doubt that'd be easy or beneficial to the city). USDA is taking the heat for this, but they should be thanked for doing the nasty bit few people want to even think about.
July 13, 2010, 12:25 pm
Michele from Park Slope says:
Who let the public know this was happening? Can't offer solutions if there are secrets.
July 13, 2010, 1:01 pm
Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
I'd love to know how many outraged people in this thread were perfectly fine with wonderful healthcare reform that will do nothing promised, and make things MUCH worse.

Geese sympathizers, you are children. May your ilk be ignored.
July 13, 2010, 2:08 pm
Anonymous from over there says:
In the bottom of an unmarked feathery grave? I wonder how many people those geese could have fed.

Don't worry, more geese will re-populate the park before you know it.
July 13, 2010, 3:42 pm
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
i am stunned and heartbroken” to see the geeze getting destroyed in such a manner. these beautiful! sexy Geez are gone forever now ,, Why was it not shipped someplace upstate or donated ? Why destroy it?
July 13, 2010, 4:33 pm
MinNY says:
If it had to be don, I wonder why we didn't team up with a local food bank or soup kitchen. Goose can be delicious.
July 13, 2010, 5:23 pm
Robert says:
“I couldn’t bear to tell the kids — I think their little hearts would break,” said Arthur. “I’m sure there would be some tears.”

Maybe we should stop coddling our children and explain to them how the world works. Give them more credit, people.
July 13, 2010, 9:58 pm
A O from BKLYN says:
Why cant they to this to pigeons? Not a aviation threat but a quality of life threat. They also have no predators and need population control. Or feed the pigeon to the homeless if you stuff them with rice they come out great like Cornish Hens. mmmmm
Pigeon and Goose should always be on the menu at a soup kitchen; thats population control!
July 14, 2010, 8:34 am
Sarah from Brooklyn says:
Ten years ago there were four or five geese. The population just exploded recently and they were crowding out the mallards, swans and migrating birds. I'm not sorry to see them go... though I feel sorry they had to be slaughtered. Let's hope it was painless.

I was told years ago that some people did poach them for food. Can't have been too tasty though.
July 14, 2010, 7:11 pm
K from JFK says:
In the old days, we would make them wear little stars on their breast before we rounded them up to be gassed to death. Ahh, memories.
July 16, 2010, 12:16 pm

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