Hundreds of Canada geese have been cruelly slaughtered in NYC this summer in the false name of air safety. Since the landing of US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January of 2009, the City of New York has contracted with USDA Wildlife Services for hundreds of thousands of dollars to round up and slaughter thousands of Canada geese and goslings from New York City's parks. Last summer, Sen. Gillibrand introduced federal legislation which led to the roundup and slaughter of hundreds of geese at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge this summer and last. These slaughters are inhumane and an ineffective waste of taxpayer dollars.
Canada geese are beautiful, intelligent birds who mate for life, fiercely protect their eggs and young, and display loyalty for other members of their flock. The methods that USDA Wildlife Services uses to kill geese are broadly understood to be grossly inhumane. During the hottest months of the year flightless geese and goslings are corralled, packed into turkey crates and transported to slaughterhouses or gas chambers; to do so in a wildlife refuge is completely unacceptable, violating the essential concept of a refuge.
Killing Canada geese in the name of air safety is inherently flawed. Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Gillibrand claim that killing geese prevents bird strikes, but all leading bird strike scientists disagree. Many major cities around the world are keeping airports safe from potential bird strikes without resorting to lethal methods. Aviation experts have reiterated that a cull will not make the skies safer for flying. “The consensus among wildlife experts appears to be that a goose cull won’t really do much to reduce the likelihood of bird strikes, especially since there are dozens of birds that use the [Jamaica Bay] preserve,” Russ Niles, editor-in-chief of AVweb.com wrote in a May 6 editorial. “I have not seen where [culling] has been effective as a long-term solution," said Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board under the Clinton administration. Ron Merritt, a biologist and former Chief for the Air Force’s Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard Team agrees, adding, “Killing 1,000 geese really isn't going to do anything. If you kill them, nature will fill that vacuum and a new species will pop up in its place." Environmentalists know the golden rule of ecosystems: if one species is removed, another species will take over.
Research shows that the most effective programs use long-term, non-lethal strategies that reduce or remove the physical conditions that attract particular species to an airport. Birds can be kept out of the pathways of aircraft by employing proven radar detection systems and dissuasive tactics. Habitat modification is also being used successfully to discourage populations of geese from colonizing. Geese numbers can be humanely reduced using proven methods developed especially for use in Canada geese.
The USDA Canada goose slaughters are conducted without community notification, transparency, or accountability. The roundups of Canada geese are financed by taxpayers and conducted by a federal agency in city parks, which are public spaces. The public has a right to transparency of governmental operations, and at a minimum, to view video documentation of the treatment of Canada geese during the roundups in order judge for themselves whether they support these extreme measures.
GooseWatch NYC was formed in 2011 in response to the roundup and killing of Canada geese in New York City parks that started in 2009. Recently, the organization has assisted with grassroots efforts in Scarsdale, Mamoroneck and North Hempstead, where the planned killing of geese was called off. For more information, please visit www.goosewatchnyc.com.