After two summers of slaughtering over a thousand geese at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, NY, USDA Wildlife Services is now targeting the Mute Swan population. A newly released supplemental environmental impact statement claims that killing swans is necessary to reduce the risks a possible collision could pose to air safety.
The USDA's Notice can be found here, and public comments can be submitted until Thursday, October 24, 2013: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0063-0001
Slaughter only clears the area temporarily as other geese will repopulate the vacant desirable habitat. "Environmentalists know the golden rule of ecosystems: if one species is removed, another species will take over," said Natural Resources Protective Association ecologist Ida Sandoff. This ineffectiveness has been demonstrated by countless documented examples of locations where geese were killed, only to be replaced by others in a short period of time, creating a killing cycle. "So if the geese are gone, there will be more resources available for whatever species moves in to occupy their niche. And that species may be even more problematic." The USDA does not address the possibility that the increase in collisions with Mute Swans has coincided with the (temporary) reductions of Canada geese.
By employing proven radar detection systems and dissuasive tactics, birds can be kept out of the pathways of aircraft. In Israel, Tel Aviv Ben-Gurion International Airport has instituted an avian radar detection program that has received worldwide recognition for its impact on reducing bird strikes. Transport Canada also recognizes that the public values Canada geese and other birds as a positive addition to urban landscapes, that lethal removal of Canada geese and other birds will not provide a long term solution, and reserves killing as a last resort.
Notable aviation experts and biologists have expressed the view that killing does not achieve long-term mitigation of the risks posed by bird collisions to air safety. “I have not seen where [culling] has been effective as a long-term solution,” Jim Hall, chairman for the National Transportation Safety Board during the Clinton administration, said. “We've done a pretty good job of controlling, if not eliminating, most major risks in aviation, but no airport is immune from this threat. What should happen is an effort to eliminate causes for the hazards, but it seems like politics is trumping safety,”
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has been referred to by Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, a local environmental protection organization, as “not simply New York City's ecological crown jewel but a wetlands and estuarine area of national importance.”
The swans have become an integral part of many individuals’ lives, and many wish to protect the area for future generations. Killing the swans will deprive many the opportunity to enjoy the park, will result in perennial emotional and psychological injury, and will impair the aesthetics and the very meaning of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.