City vs. Canadian Geese

The Headline read: “Fewer Canada Geese, Fewer To Kill”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s report on Canadian Geese, federal agents rounded up 575 from New York City parks and golf courses that were within the flight range of the city’s airports. This is less than 60 percent of the 1509 geese slaughtered in 2010.

The explanation is simple. Although new geese flew in, the new migrants numbers did not replace the number that had been previously destroyed.

Is this progress?
If you consider New York City as separate from the path of  migratory birds, then you can call it progress.

Based on the philosophy that,  “The reduced numbers of resident Canada geese in NYC support the effectiveness of multiple years of Canada goose removals on population reduction. The city has come to the conclusion that slaughtering the geese is a viable solution.

The kills in June and early July when the geese are molting and cannot fly, is the basis of the government project designed to reduce the Canadian Geese population by half in 17 Atlantic states. The project seeks to cut the number of migratory Canadian Geese from 1.1 million to 650,000.

Put into effect after geese caught in the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 that caused a crash-landing in the Hudson River, the Department of Agriculture believes much can be gained by reducing the numbers of migratory geese.

The report reads, “The benefits of reducing the overabundant resident Canada goose populations are numerous, and improving safety to the aviation industry is paramount.”

In June 2011 575 Canadian Geese in the city of New York were destroyed, their meat donated to a food bank. Years past, geese were gassed, the carcasses discarded.

The highest death toll took place at the Gateway National Recreational Area along Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn between Fountain and Pennsylvania Avenues, with 92 geese destroyed. Ten were released due to space limitations.

Last year’s biggest killing field was Prospect Park in Brooklyn, where 368 geese were sent gassed setting off a public outcry.

This year government goose-counters counted less than two dozen geese in the park — so few that it was decided that it is was not worth the effort to kill them.

A wildlife rehabilitator and advocate for Prospect Park’s waterfowl is encouraged that the few remaining geese in Prospect Park will be permitted to stay .  “Let’s hope that this will put an end to the killing and lead to the use of alternative methods elsewhere next year.”

Readers’ Comments

E Lewin
Alexandria, VA
September 26th, 2011
11:51 am
Why blame the geese? I don’t think geese willingly fly into jet engines for giggles.
Jane
Atlanta
September 26th, 2011
11:51 am
can’t they even kill them in a manner so that they can go to the foodbanks? what a waste !
City Room
September 26th, 2011
3:53 pm
Jane – I erroneously stated in the original version of this post that the geese were gassed. In fact, they were sent to a slaughterhouse and given to a food bank this year. This error has now been fixed in the post.To read more about the decision to give the geese to a food bank, read http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/culled-geese-are-bound-for-tables-not-dump/
New York
September 26th, 2011
11:51 am
First they came for the geese…
ACW
New Jersey
September 26th, 2011
11:51 am
Pity there is no humane way to reduce the other overpopulation problem in this area.”If I had to choose between airplanes and birds, I’d choose birds.” — C.A. Lindbergh
Perley J. Thibodeau
Manhattan, New York
September 26th, 2011
12:37 pm
I told the geese in Central Park that if they’re smart they’ll walk and quack like ducks.
But, I was told that someone pointed to a duck recently and pronounced it as being delicious.
Now I’m going to tell them that they have to dye their feathers white, and start floating like a swan.
I’m trying my very best to protect the wildlife but, not as much as some guys are that I happen to know of.
PQuincy
California
September 26th, 2011
12:37 pm
The obvious solution is to let northeastern coyote populations rise. The geese are abundant largely owing to the lack of predation, what with large cats and wolves eliminated, even as we offer the goose tasty meals on large lawns.How about establishing a den of coyotes in Prospect Park, restoring even more natural balance! (Coming from California, it’s worth pointing out that this could also help control rodent and feral cat populations…)
Counter Measures
Old Borough Park, New York
September 26th, 2011
12:37 pm
TB
Philadelphia
September 26th, 2011
12:40 pm
Why are people trying to protect an exotic species that fouls public parks and does tremendous damage to water quality? If there were, say, an ugly brown lizard that ate the grass down to mud and left green poop all over public parks, would there be so much sympathy?If only the animal rights activists had kids who end up covered in green slimy goose poop after a soccer game. It’s gross and it can’t be good for the kids to be exposed to that much fecal material.The test isn’t how much damage 100 geese do to a park. The test is how much damage 10,000 geese do — because the population climbs geometrically in the absence of natural predators. If you don’t kill 100 geese here and there, you will have 10,000 and then the only solution will be to abandon parks and allow wolves and foxes to return (which I’m sure the animal rights people would applaud). And then 10 million people can stay in their apartments 24-7.
Mike
Florida
September 26th, 2011
12:46 pm
If you ever had to live with these geese on your property or in your pool, you would definitely be on the side of reducing the population.
Nuisance is an understatement.
Randall
NYC
September 26th, 2011
12:46 pm
They are rats with wings. Thank God for Sully and his pilot skills. We need to get rid of the geese. All of them.
Outraged Conservationist
Inwood, NY
September 26th, 2011
12:47 pm
The small group of geese residing at Inwood Hill Park in Northern Manhattan posed no threat to local airports, yet they were rounded up and slaughtered just because they were there. If you agree that this is wrong and want to support humane methods of controlling the urban goose population in the future, please sign our petition:http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/save-the-geese-of-inwood-hill-park/
David
Nevada Desert
September 26th, 2011
My theory is that in hard times, people go into public parks and forests to hunt for food. Hence, the rise in demand for bear hunting, etc.
Daniel Boone, KY
Carol
Brooklyn, New York
September 26th, 2011
1:43 pm
TB of Philadelphia, you are talking about Prospect Park..nobody plays soccer here LOL. Plus, there never were 10,000 geese in the park. These were resident geese that lived there year-round and were beloved by parkgoers.People poop too. Plus, what is it, first it was airline safety..then it’s poop..what’s next? It’s obvious that the USDA is throwing stuff out there to see what sticks, to justify their deeds. It’s obvious that the USDA has an agenda other than flight safety. Because most airplane crashes are caused by pilot error or from malfunctioning planes. Follow the money.
Skirt
NYC
September 26th, 2011
3:10 pm
In addition to being morally reprehensible, this misguided plan of killing is horrific, criminally stupid, and doomed to fail. Resident geese most certainly are NOT implicated in the problem with Flight 1549.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608125059.htm
True to form, though, today’s so-called “reporters” all fell for the propaganda, which was published without any appraisal of the evidence (and a gullible public doesn’t ask questions). Second, what a ridiculous smokescreen and one that may have deadly public safety consequences, because this bogus framing of the birds is NOT making the skies safer for commercial air travelers.
Does it not bother you fliers that your government is deceiving you? Scientific American article discussed bird-detecting radar, saying “We have radar that detects weather and radar that detects wind shear around airports. You can program radar to filter out weather and show the birds. That would be available to pilots and air traffic control to help pilots steer around concentrations of birds in the air.” So, where is it? Put a man on the moon, put GPS on our cellphones– and US govt can’t spend some money on some high-tech device to help pilots avoid some birds? This bird-killing branch of government–USDA–is having the last laugh, blaming birds, while the US does nothing else for air safety. Forget about budget cuts, sleepy pilots, documented cases of pilots have been intoxicated, shoddy repairs, etc–and we are gassing Canada geese? And gassing geese is not, as Bloomberg said, sending the off to “sweet dreams.” It is a protracted, painful and very cruel death. Everyone should see a picture of a gas chamber after animals have been exterminated inside one.
I will never, ever forget the disgraceful assault on decency that was the USDA agents swooping into Prospect Park, under cover of darkness, and murdering geese. “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”
September 26th, 2011
3:59 pm
Skirt -I erroneously wrote that the geese were gassed. They were not. See my reply to comment 2:Seehttp://community.nytimes.com/comments/cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/fewer-canada-geese-so-fewer-are-killed/?permid=2#comment2
David, 26
Brooklyn, NY
September 26th, 2011
3:10 pm

This report should infuriate anyone who loves animals and respects their right to life, and every NYC taxpayer. At a cost of $45,000 (FY2010), NYC taxpayers forked over $78 for each goose the USDA killed this past summer.The USDA claims their program is successful, in essence saying “We killed a lot of geese and now there are less to kill.” Yet despite a 62% reduction in the number of geese killed in NYC, the USDA recommends continuing, even expanding the removals.What are the reasons for this program?-Flight 1549 “Miracle on the Hudson”? CNN reported that the US Airways Airbus had sustained “engine stall” on a previous flight and almost had to emergency land.http://bit.ly/r9MzCg For a fact – not one human being on a commercial flight has ever been killed because of Canada geese. EVER. “People are not going to stop flying and we have to make a decision. It’s geese or human beings.” http://bit.ly/c7dtRN What a crock… can’t our leaders come up with cheaper and more effective ways to ensure that BOTH human life and wildlife are protected?-“Loss of land due to excessive fecal droppings”? Which NYC park experiences this problem? And might I suggest keeping our funds local by allocating additional funding to the Parks Department in order to properly maintain the health and beauty of our parks. Considering the disgusting examples of human litter I have seen in so many of the parks on this list, for a fact goose poop is the least of our park’s ‘loss of land’ problems.In the end, the geese were slaughtered inhumanely – netted, gosling separated from their parents, rounded up into turkey crates, and driven off to the gas chambers to die a slow death. http://on.fb.me/ooYqNh “Euthanasia”, my a**. The city of NY has perpetrated a severe injustice against our local Canada Geese and also the many residents of this city who appreciate a goose’s life. This inhumane killing needs to stop.

Here is a petition you can sign: http://chn.ge/gZrjoE

September 26th, 2011
4:01 pm
David:I erroneously wrote that the geese were gassed. They were not. See my reply to comment 2:http://community.nytimes.com/comments/cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/fewer-canada-geese-so-fewer-are-killed/?permid=2#comment2
HIGHLIGHT (What’s this?)
Johanna Clearfield
Brooklyn
September 26th, 2011
3:12 pm
The USDA’s nefarious subdivision, Orwellian titled, “Wildlife Services” has a for-profit motive to exterminate wildlife. The motive is money. Last year alone that division raked in $70 million dollars in for-kill contracts. This is one of the rare government agencies that is both funded by our tax dollars and then collects money from our cities and towns in the form of extermination contracts, again funded by tax dollars. Double dipping, you might call it. In addition, the agency reaps millions for private industries like golf courses and private properties that simply would rather not have geese around. These exterminations have been taking place without the proper NEPA (National Environmental Protection Act) Environmental Impact Surveys and without biological or ecological evaluation.The Migratory Bird Act – although a temporary protection when it was initially enacted — contains one deadly caveat. Migratory birds are protected unless they interfere with “commerce.” Golf courses, concessions, private hotels and estates can all claim that these birds are interfering with commerce. The Migratory Bird Act is a joke.In addition, in the late 1980’s, the regulating and control of wildlife was transferred from a national responsibility to a state level – leaving all wildlife prey to the profit motives of states who happily issue extermination and hunting permits in exchange for a handsome ransom.For the history of the erosion of these protections, please see
http://www.canadageese.org
and
http://www.humanerevolution.orgWe do not have “too many geese” and we do not have “too many deer” and “too many squirrels” and “too many raccoons” – what we have is an egregious lack of wildlife protection in this country that draws a line where private interests cannot anihilate wildlife.Unregulated suburban sprawl is doing nothing if not deplacing the last precious habitats for our nation’s treasures – our deer, raccoons, swans, ducks, geese.
Johanna Clearfield
Brooklyn
September 26th, 2011
3:16 pm
One important post script.
According to the FAA airline incidents due to “bird strikes” account for .068% of incidents. .068%. In point of fact, airplanes are not allowed on the runway if they have not been tested for withstanding bird strikes — frozen turkeys are used in testing. In addition, all airplanes are equipped with radar that details any and all approaching flocks of birds. There have been some reports that Capt. Sullenburger simply was not watching or monitoring that radar screen. Airplanes have the technology to maneuver away from that danger.Listed in the top percentage of airline safety hazards are 1. Human/pilot error 2. malfunctioning equipment. The airlines have suffered huge budget cuts and the Reagen-era Airline union-busting helped to ensure that pilots, air traffic controllers and other are logging longer hours, less sleep and the salary for an airline pilot has dropped from the six figures to as low as administrative staff levels — $60,000 and less.
.
Mary
Brooklyn
September 26th, 2011
3:20 pm
This article will lead the public into further arguing and believing that inhumanely rounding up and slaughtering these birds is an acceptable means of dealing with the issue. We have taken 3 steps backwards. It is not acceptable to take the easy way out and kill. This is not about public safety but about the continuation of slamming the bucks into the pockets of the feds.It is unfortunate that NYC and so many other communities around this country fail to respect wildlife (whether they LIKE the wildlife or not). They find absolutely nothing wrong with rounding up defenseless birds and their offspring to be tossed into gas chambers to die horrible deaths. What have they done wrong?Many people talk about the absence of predators- Well, who’s fault is that?
September 26th, 2011
4:01 pm
Mary:I erroneously wrote that the geese were gassed. They were not. See my reply to comment 2:http://community.nytimes.com/comments/cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/fewer-canada-geese-so-fewer-are-killed/?permid=2#comment2
DMV74
Washington, DC
September 26th, 2011
4:12 pm
I wish USDA had a plan for Norther Virginia. We do play soccer in our parks and walk along paths. We are overwhelmed with these supposedly seasonal animals all year long. Luckily our area is also seeing a resurgence in coyotes and foxes but they can only do so much. We should round them up kill them humanely and safely so that we can donate the meat to area food banks, churches, and homeless shelters.Anyway I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. Whats the difference between geese and the other invasive species we are trying to either eradicate or keep the population down. We round up and kill snakeheads (Potomac River), pythons (Everglades), wild hogs (Hawaii, the South), iguanas (Florida) etc. Why not geese?
Ruth Eisenbud
MA
September 26th, 2011
4:12 pm
Dominionites will only stop killing animals when there are no more animals left to kill….Dominion has got to go! I am pretty sure this will not occur until we stop pretending that the semitic religions can be made more compassionate. The faith based outreach of the dominion religions has infiltrated the animal rights movement with its insidious message of ‘necessary’, righteous violence. Any support given to any institutions, clergy or faith based organizations of the semitic religions will never help animals, but will increase the wealth and power of those who are so dearly attached to the righteous cruelty of dominion…”It is the essential characteristic of a wise person that he/she does not kill any living being. One should know that non-killing and equality of all living beings are the main principles of religion.’ jain sutraThe wisdom and compassion of this jain sutra is not reflected in the teachings of the judeo.christian religious tradition. These religions are rearranging the chairs on the titanic in an effort to appear more compassionate. It is time to abandon ship, as no good can come from reshuffling sanctified violence to animals…dominion and the religions which preach this cruel doctrine must be renounced by those seeking a better scene for animals.
PattyA
Manhattan
September 26th, 2011
4:13 pm
We massacre, slaughter and “euthanize” animals on land, sea, air and even in animal “shelters.’ The ONE place some of us naively thought animals were “safe” was our city parks.But, no. Now we go into city parks, usually in the pre-dawn to round up and slaughter innocent, defenseless geese swimming on a park lake.We have descended one step lower to hell.
September 26th, 2011
4:14 pm
This comment has been removed. Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments FAQ.
Marion
Vancouver, British Columbia
September 26th, 2011
4:35 pm
One of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetuated is now occurring with NYC’s war on their innocent resident Canada geese in the name of air safety. And it’s all being fought with taxpayers money. It’s insane and expensive.FAA Aviation Safety Tolerable Risk Principles states ‘Respond to threats in keeping with the severity and probability of the event’. Then look at the severity and probability of a plane/bird strike bringing down a plane:If you look at the recognized threats to air safety bird strikes are not even listed. Pilot error is #1.According to Boeing, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and planecrashinfo.com, the top reasons are:1. Pilot error
Specifically: weather-related pilot error (where pilot error was the cause but brought-about by weather related phenomena), mechanical-related pilot-error (where pilot error was the cause but brought about by some type of mechanical failure), math-related pilot error
% of crashes (approx): 50%2. Mechanical failure
Specifically: maintenance negligence, design flaws, structural failure, fueling errors
% of crashes (approx): 22%3. Weather
Specifically: wind shears, extreme turbulence, storms, lightning strikes, etc…
% of crashes (approx): 12%

4. Sabotage
Specifically: explosive detonations plane being shot down, and hijackings
% of crashes (approx): 9%

5. Other errors
Specifically: air traffic control error[s], improper loading of aircraft, fuel contamination, and misc. third party negligence
% of crashes (approx): 7%

Respond to threats in keeping with the severity and probability of the event…..mmmm I don’t see bird strikes mentioned.

PattyA
Manhattan
September 26th, 2011
4:35 pm
Detangling USDA doubletalk:”Our killing program has been so successful, we now have fewer geese to slaughter! Next year we will finish the job!”MANAGEMENT TO EXTINCTION.
Marion
Vancouver, British Columbia
September 26th, 2011
4:36 pm
Can you tell us how slaughtering NYC’s resident geese did anything to improve air safety and if so by what percentage would you say?Flight 1549 is the major excuse given to round up and kill NYC’s resident Canada geese, but:1) Flight 1549 was an Airbus A320; Flight 1549 also had serious engine problems two days prior to running into the migrant geese from Labrador, Canada and almost had to make an emergency landing then.2) The FAA had issued warnings Airbus A320’s were prone to double engine failure back in 2007. “An emergency safety directive has been issued to airlines using twin-engine Airbus A320s after both engines on one stalled over the Mediterranean, just 18 days after an Air New Zealand A320 crashed killing all seven on board.” http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/246674/3) ADDITIONALLY, 645 PEOPLE DIED IN TEN YEARS IN crashes INVOLVING AIRBUS A320’s – NOT ONE OF THOSE LETHAL CRASHES INVOLVED bird strikes – let alone a Canada goose. Fatal and significant airbus A320 incidents:
http://www.airsafe.com/events/models/a320.htm4) The engines on Flight 1549 actually suck in birds: “Bird strikes are five times more likely to occur on planes with engines mounted under the wings, such as the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A320, than on planes with engines mounted on the fuselage, like the Boeing MD-80 and some…[smaller]…jets.* It is probably because the airflow over the MD-80 causes the birds to get blown away from the engines.”5) Flight 1549 struck migrant Canada geese from Labrador, Canada at 3,200 feet. Only a small percentage of bird strikes occur at heights above 500 feet, between 75-90% or bird strikes occur below 500 feet above ground level.

So bird strikes are not listed in the list of top aviation hazards, and a tiny percentage of them occur above 500 feet, and an even tinier number would cause a plane to lose power in both engines.