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Group stands on guard for geese throughout city parks

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services, geese in city parks will be rounded up in order to keep them out of the path of passenger planes. Photo by Steve Mosco
TimesLedger Newspapers

The roar of giant passenger planes landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport continuously interrupts the relative quiet of a fresh water pond in Brookville Park in Rosedale.

Residents have lived with the low-flying aircraft for years and so have the geese and other waterfowl using the park to feed and rear their young.

But recent bird strikes at John F. Kennedy International and Westchester airports have put lawmakers at odds with the city’s avian population, making birds like the ones at Brookville Park targets of legislation aimed at easing restrictions on the culling of the animals.

Standing in the way is GooseWatch NYC, a group formed in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in 2011 to protect geese from being rounded up — and potentially slaughtered — by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

The group recently created an emergency alert network that would mobilize local members to visit culling sites where they could document any goose roundups.

“The roundups of Canada geese in New York City are financed by taxpayers and conducted by a federal agency in city parks, which are community spaces,” said David Karopkin, of GooseWatch NYC. “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 to judge for themselves whether they support such extreme measures. An observer should be allowed to attend the roundup and removal operations.”

Members of the group plan to document goose roundups in more than 15 city parks, including Brookville, Bowne, Baisley Pond, Kissena and Springfield parks in Queens; Inwood Hill, Morningside, Riverside and Central parks in Manhattan; East River State Park in Brooklyn; ; and Willowbrook and Clove Lake parks in Staten Island.

Edita Birnkrant, the New York director of Friends of Animals, an animal advocacy group, said she plans to do more than just document the removal of geese from area parks.

“The position of Friends of Animals is a bit different from GooseWatch because I am personally willing to disrupt and prevent the USDA from completing the roundups at Brookville Park, or any other park where I witness a roundup occurring,” she said, adding she would use noisemakers to thwart the roundups. “I would not sit idly by while my tax dollars enabled a brutal and senseless attack on a species of wildlife that should be protected in our parks.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) recently introduced federal legislation that would expedite the removal of Canada geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge near JFK.

The geese would be removed during their molting period — between June and August — when the birds lose their feathers and cannot fly. According to Carol Bannerman, public affairs specialist for the USDA wildlife services, removal of geese could involve lethal procedures such as shooting or gassing the animals.

“There is simply no reason to slaughter these animals,” said Birnkrant. “The city could modify the habitat so that it is not as attractive to geese. They can take preventative measures to ensure the safety of both airplane passengers and geese.”

Birnkrant also said a trash transfer station currently being built in the flight path of LaGuardia Airport flies in the face of safety, as it will attract birds and place airline passengers at risk.

“They are going to attract birds with that garbage dump,” she said, referring to the North Shore Marine Transfer Station. “Lawmakers are talking out of both sides of their mouth.”

Last month, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who safely guided a passenger plane into the Hudson River following a bird strike in 2009, lent his voice to a radio ad campaign denouncing the construction of the trash transfer station.

Neither Gillibrand’s office nor the USDA returned requests for comment as of press time.

Wilhelmina Kelly, of Springfield Gardens, was walking in Brookville Park with her friend Anthony Wilkins when a GooseWatch member handed her a flier explaining the potential goose roundups.

“It’s so unfair,” she said. “This is the bird’s habitat. It’s like a trap.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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PattyA from Manhattan says:
Thanks for a truthful and well done article.

Special thanks to Goosewatch and Friends of Animals for standing up and saying "no" to the wide scale slaughter of innocent wildlife that we thought "safe" in our urban parks.

The ruse of "airline safety" is just that. Perpetuation of a fantastic illusion that somehow killing most of the geese peacefully living in city parks will make airline passengers "safe."

Nothing could be further from the truth.

One's chances of dying as result of plane strike with wildlife are one in 750 million. For Canada geese even less -- maybe one in a billion.

The same mentality that justifies killing geese for some unimagionable improbability is the same one that would justify cutting down most of the trees because occasionally a falling branch injures or even kills someone.

We need to wake up to the reality here and stand up for the wildlife in our parks -- places of supposed "peace and tranquility" that will soon become war zones on wildlife.
June 14, 2012, Noon
Lynne from Manhattan says:
I second Patty's comment...great article and great goose groups.

I think PANYNJ has successfully distracted the public from the real risks in flying and put it on the least...fact is nobody has ever died in a civilian commercial flight from a Canada goose strike.

On the other hand, my research shows over 700 people have died in plane crashes associated with one airport ...JFK. I am not sure then how JFK can possibly justify killing geese in the name of air safety. None of the 700 fatalities associated with their airport was caused by a Canada goose.

IF geese were a problem why hasn't a stringent egg addling program been carried out all through NYNJ before they restorted to killing? I came across an article today that proves addling eggs has been hugely successful in a VERY large area..the Okanagan Valley of BC, Canada. This is an area with lots of lakes, golf course, tourists, and Canada geese.

I believe geese are intelligent birds and those living around airports know about planes...otherwise with billions of planes flying every year as well as millions of geese there would be a lot more goose strikes. Killing the geese used to airports and planes means new inexperienced birds will take their place and increase the strike risk.
June 14, 2012, 12:58 pm
Annie from Prospect Park Southwest says:
Thank so much for this very important information! What an atrocity that the geese in NYC parks will be abducted by evil individuals who consider the geese pests and dispensable. Horrible! Does it not matter at all that there are so many people who love and respect these beautiful creatures? What can we do to stop this??? I'm sick thinking about what is going to happen to these innocent animals.
June 14, 2012, 3:33 pm
MB from Brooklyn says:
I think the USDA is finally meeting it's match with the communities around the country who have decided to band together and stand up for the wildlife who have no voice and who continue to meet it's demise at the hands of the government.

We refuse to see our tax dollars fund any further killing programs, programs that do nothing but let the public "think" the city has their best interest at heart. It is a ruse, a crock.

Birds know no boundaries- period. You cannot kill every bird in the sky and you can no longer dupe the public and we will no longer stand by and watch our parks turned into killing fields. The jig is up.
June 14, 2012, 3:54 pm
USDA Liars from Manhattan says:
And to think that nothing useful is being done in the name of aviation safety. This goose slaughter is fraudulent and a misappropriation of funds.

Read my lips: "None of the 700 fatalities associated with JFK was caused by a Canada goose." What part about that do you not understand? Why blame the geese? Oh, I forgot, it's because they are molting and you can "capture" them.

I do not want my tax dollars being wasted this way and I will be there to greet the contract killers whose primary job it is to exterminate on demand, for revenue.
June 14, 2012, 4:33 pm
Eileen Lisbonetta from Woodside says:
This is incredibly shocking- that this is going on and I had no idea.

I intend to keep my eyes open and to spread the word that this is happening in our neighborhoods right under our noses.

How do they propose they will stop birds from flying? This is hilarious.
June 14, 2012, 4:41 pm
ABS from Manhattan says:
At last - an INTELLIGENT article on the insane jihad perpetrated against birds by nature-haters Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Gillibrand. The only things going down in flames should be their careers in politics for demonstrating how unfit they are to manage people by proving they cannot even humanely manage geese.

The recent 3-part article in the Sacramento Bee exposing the abuse of animals and misuse of taxpayer funds by the USDA and its killing division, Wildlife Services, has led to a huge outcry for a Congressinal investigation into this agency that exists to make money by outrageously and horribly killing various wildlife, including the geese, in programs they push all across the country. There are non-lethal methods of intelligent management for all wildlife, if control is necessary.

As far as air safety goes, this is a ruse and a lie, and the dumbest person in the world is able to make the connection that killing birds will in NO WAY make anyone safer in the air, but use of advanced technology, better training and newer planes WILL make a difference. The sooner the FAA deals with REAL safety problems and stops playing smoke and mirrors with nonsense, the safer all of us will be, both humans and birds. There have been more plane crashes in the past few weeks than I can ever remember, and none of them involved birds.
June 14, 2012, 4:42 pm
Roy from Ann Arbor says:
Having been through this a couple of years ago in Indiana, I fully support this piece. It is unreal to me how manically people want to blame geese for all our human-created problems. Let's be sensible and humane. Here is an article about the situation in Indiana and how we were able to bring some momentary sense to the proceedings:
June 14, 2012, 4:43 pm
Jason B from Queens says:
The fact that they are building this waste transfer facility knowing full well it will attract birds is assinine.

I am all for the safety of the public- but the goevernment is just not using it's head- instead it is just wasting MY money, what little is left of it.
June 14, 2012, 4:44 pm
Jason B from Queens says:
I am all for public safety but this is insane.

They are building a waste transfer facility at the edge of a runway. They have been told it is not a good idea and yet they are going through with this.

The government is just not using it's head. It is only using my money.
June 14, 2012, 4:45 pm
ABS from Manhattan says:
Here is another intelligent solution to humanely discouraging birds and other animals at airports without having to kill:

Clearly, this idea, along with the Merlin bird radar detector, mapping major bird migratory routes and re-routing planes to avoid them, better pilot training and other TECHNOLOGICAL solutions are the answer, not the neanderthal killing of birds.

Also, perhaps using simple logic like NOT locating a wildlife refuge or a garbage dump near an airport would be a sign of human intelligence.
June 14, 2012, 4:55 pm
ABS from Manhattan says:
Another intelligent solution to non-lethally deter birds and other wildllife from airport runways:
June 14, 2012, 4:56 pm
ABS from Manhattan says:
June 14, 2012, 4:58 pm
LIES, LIES, LIES from NYC says:
OK now let's look at this rationally

National Wildlife Strike Database
Query Results

Selected Search Criteria:
From: JAN 1990 To: APR 2012
State: NY
Number of Species Returned: 1


IN 22 YEARS, NY has had 0.095% of the total number of goose strikes. How many people died? ZERO!
June 14, 2012, 5:18 pm
Do the Math from NYC says:
I would not expect anyone at USDA or in federal government to be able to do math.

Let's just keep it very simple and look at this Q&A from the FAA website (

Q: How many deaths have been attributed to wildlife strikes?
A: Since 1990, there have been a total of 23 fatalities
attributed to wildlife strikes with US civil aircraft.

In the WHOLE United States, that's 23 deaths--approximately 1 a year.
June 14, 2012, 5:29 pm
Do the Math from NYC says:
And by the way, stupid USDA-- That "1 a year" is NOT referring to Canada geese.

it is referring to "wildlife."
June 14, 2012, 5:30 pm
Goose Killers, Leave Town from Brooklyn says:
When considering that your federal tax dollars are being spent on murder, keep in mind just how gratuitous this killing spree is:

Q: What is the bird most commonly struck by aircraft?
A: Gulls are the most common type of bird to strike aircraft. They account for 17% of the birds identified in bird strikes. Doves and Pigeons are the second most common. They account for 15% of the birds identified in bird strikes.

So, again, why is the USDA targeting Canada geese? And why kill any wildlife, when non-lethal methods haven't been implemented?

New York City is a laughingstock.
June 14, 2012, 5:35 pm
USDA, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader? from Queens says:
What Transport Canada says about "removal" methods:

"Generally, removal methods-trapping, shooting, and poisoning-provide short-term solutions to the presence of problem species. Removal methods will eliminate the species temporarily, but if the attractant is not removed the population will simply replenish itself."

As any fifth-grader knows

June 14, 2012, 5:41 pm
USDA WS's income depends on killing animals from Brooklyn says:
I want to point out a glaring 'error' the official Memorandum of Agreement between the FAA and USDA.

Scroll down to Background -

"Aircraft-wildlife strikes are the second leading causes of aviation-related fatalities."

I don't think wildlife strikes are even listed as a cause of fatal plane crashes...pilot error tops the list.

How can there be such an agreement between so many government agencies BASED ON SUCH AN INCORRECT STATEMENT???
June 14, 2012, 6:24 pm
Lynne from Manhattan says:
Bird Strike Committee USA has a list "The Top 10 Bird Strike Myths"

#8 Myth - If birds are a problem at an airport, killing them all would eliminate the problem.

Fact - Even if it were legal to do so, killing off all birds at an airport will NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEMS. An airport is an integral part of the local ecosystem, and like in all ecosystems, each plant or animal species plays an important role. Eliminating any one problem species WILL ONLY LEAD TO SOME OTHER SPECIES TAKING ITS PLACE. A combination of bird control measures which take into account habitat management to reduce the attractions of food, water and shelter is a superior long-term solution.
June 14, 2012, 6:49 pm
Julianna from Valley Stream says:
What is their agenda? It can't possibly be safety- all data shows that the geese are a negligible problem (if a problem at all). So honestly, how are these agencies benefiting from killing the geese?
June 14, 2012, 11:41 pm
Kill Me Now from UES says:
Contracts like this are the main 'revenue stream for USDA. it is an extermination agency...anything labeled as a pest.
June 15, 2012, 4:13 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:

We don't need your war machines. We don't need your pre-dawn invasions into OUR city parks for our so-called, "benefit." We don't want your gas chambers, plastic ties, turkey crates and cutting knives.

Many of us in NYC are sick and tired of "Nannygate" and so-called "authority" telling us what to eat, drink, how to feed babies and what we can and cannot enjoy for recreation.

The one place in the world that we thought free from government intrusion and killings of animals were our city parks.

But, now we learn that isn't even true.

USDA stick to things you are supposed to do -- like insuring food supply is safe and leave the wildlife in public parks to US -- the citizens who actually enjoy our beautiful Canada geese and the other animals.

If animals and nature cannot be safe in a peaceful park or wildlife refuge where can they be safe?
June 15, 2012, 8:26 am

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