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Oppose S.2377 USDA slaughter of Canada geese at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Since 2009, Mayor Bloomberg has authorized the killing of Canada geese in public parks across New York City. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced a federal bill that would “cut the red tape between federal agencies" and allow the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to slaughter thousands more Canada geese, including those at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Preserve—a federally protected wildlife sanctuary and one of the most important urban wildlife refuges in the United States.

The killings that were authorized by Bloomberg and that are now endorsed by Gillibrand are part of a misguided attempt to persuade the public that the killings will improve commercial flight safety. It is disingenuous and dishonest for politicians to suggest that this taxpayer-funded slaughter is improving aviation safety.

Jamaica Bay is New York City’s ecological crown jewel–a wetlands and estuarine area of national importance. A Gateway National Recreation Area, Jamaica Bay remains the region's only refuge for migratory birds, such as Canada Geese, birds now targeted for slaughter because of the site's proximity to JFK airport. Whenever geese are removed from desirable habitats, others will move in to take their place. This would have the unintended effect of ensuring the killing will continue year after year.

Technological advances that could improve aviation safety are unlikely to be implemented as long as this duplicitous killing program is being carried out. Preventive techniques have not been applied to prevent potentially dangerous aircraft collisions with wildlife. If air travel is to be made safer, non-lethal techniques and technologies must be implemented in New York City; they have been employed successfully in other US cities that should serve as data-driven models. New York officials are far too eager to opt for a mass slaughter, which is based on junk science and considered by many to be an act of last resort.

USDA Wildlife Services is a for-profit agency. NYC's only wetlands and wildlife refuge should NOT be opened up to the USDA's hired killers to target geese and other protected wildlife. Even Allan Gosser, the New York State Director of Wildlife Services for the USDA, said recently: "Bird strikes will never be eliminated, as long as birds fly and people fly." This couldn't be more true. Protecting airplanes and wildlife are not mutually exclusive, both can and must be done, unless, Wildlife Services plans on eliminating all birds.

GooseWatch NYC is committed to documenting this year's roundups, although the USDA has advised that the roundups will not be open to the public. We were informed by USDA officials: "for several reasons, including minimizing stress to the wildlife, only those staff working on an activity or the partners requesting it, are included in proposed activities." Sen. Gillibrand states that "transparency and accountability have been a hallmark" for her office, and GooseWatch NYC shares her commitment. The NYC round-ups are conducted by a federal agency in public parks. The citizens whose taxpayer dollars support the extermination programs have a right to view and judge for themselves whether they support these policies.

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