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Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city will round up and kill thousands of Canada geese in Queens parks in the coming months after Smithsonian Institute scientists concluded the migratory birds were responsible for crippling U.S. Airways Flight 1549 when it took off from LaGuardia International Airport this winter.
Bloomberg said the city will coordinate with federal officials to target upward of 2,000 geese in places like Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Fort Totten in northern Queens and Jamaica Bay in southern Queens where the migratory birds congregate near airport runways.
“The serious dangers that Canada geese pose to aviation became all too clear when geese struck US Airways Flight 1549,” Bloomberg said. “Thanks to the heroic efforts of Captain [Chesley] Sullenberger, the Flight 1549 crew, local ferry boat operators and the city’s emergency response agencies, no lives were lost. But the incident served as a catalyst to strengthen our efforts in removing geese from, and discouraging them from nesting on, city property near our runways.”
According to the New York Post, the U.S. Department of Agriculture supervised the killing of 100 geese on Monday and will continue to do so over the next several weeks.
Bloomberg said the determination by the Smithsonian Institute %u2014 presented to Congress last week %u2014 should also alleviate fears that birds will have a significant impact on a planned marine waste transfer station in College Point.
The proposed transfer station has been greeted with vitriol from legislators like U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who contend the garbage in the facility will attract birds that could present a hazard to planes taking off from one of LaGuardia’s main runways, located just over 2,000 feet away.
Bloomberg said garbage entering and leaving the facility will be completely enclosed at all times and noted that as herbivores migratory birds like Canada geese would not be attracted to garbage even if it were exposed. He also noted the project has the approval of both city and state government and the Federal Aviation Administration, which issued a “no-hazard determination” to the station last year.
But Ackerman was not impressed.
“They say it has city and state approval. So did slavery,” he said in an interview. “Look, I don’t have a problem with the transfer station. I can be very much for it. The runway is the problem. Put it 1,000 feet away, put it 50 feet away put it in the center of College Point for all I care. Just don’t put it in front of the runway.”
Ackerman and U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) sponsored a bill in the House of Representatives last month that could block the transfer station by imposing new safety regulations that would preclude such a structure from being built near an active runway.
“I’m not interested in micromanaging the city’s garbage plan. Anywhere else you do this is fine with me. I don’t have a dog in that fight,” Ackerman said. “Just don’t put it in front of the runway because then it’s a safety issue and I’m involved.”
The bill is currently awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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