New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Employees from the United States Department of
Agriculture corralled geese on Randalls Island into a metal pen.
A gaggle of geese who were, at least temporarily, calling Randalls
Island home were the target on Wednesday, the third day of a
citywide roundup of geese that is expected to result in the
destruction of some 2,000 birds. Authorities say the operation is a
necessary measure to keep civil aviation safe, but animal rights
activists have excoriated the culling, calling it
unnecessary and inhumane.
The geese are being removed from more than 40 city-owned parks and
other facilities within five miles of the citys airports. The operation
is a response to the bird strike that resulted in the nearly disastrous
ditching of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January.
Officials say the geese must be rounded up and
destroyed to protect aircraft.
June 16, 2009, 6:12 pm
DDozens Protest Killing of
Geese Near Airports
Cernansky for The New York Times
Demonstrators protested a proposal to
remove at least 2,000 geese from more than 40 city-owned parks and other
sites within five miles of the citys airports.
Just a few blocks north of Union Square, a crowd gathered outside the
headquarters of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Tuesday
afternoon to protest New York Citys plan to
least 2,000 geese during their molting season, a time when the geese
cannot fly. The protesters accused the mayors office of planning the action
in secret, in conjunction with the federal Agriculture Department and the
The Port Authority brushed off the protest, insisting that the culling
was necessary to prevent bird strikes and adding a rhyme for good measure.
Our responsibility is to think about safety for people before peace for
geese, a Port Authority spokesman, Stephen Sigmund, said.
the plan to kill the geese on Thursday, in response to the bird strike
that resulted in the nearly disastrous ditching of
US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in January. The first 100
killed on Monday.
The protesters asserted that the geese culling was both inhumane and
This is absurd, said Edita Birnkrant, New York director of
Friends of Animals, the group
leading the protest. This is not going to solve any problems. This wont
make planes any safer.
The geese that took down Flight 1549 on Jan. 15 were migratory geese,
while the geese that are going to be killed in the next few weeks are
resident birds, the protesters pointed out. The disruption of their habitats
would not have prevented the accident in January, they said.
Ms. Birnkrant said that the Port Authority was passing the buck and
that officials there told her they would have looked into nonlethal
methods, but the decision to destroy the birds had already been made by the
Agriculture Department. Ultimately, Ms. Birkrant argued, it was up to the
mayor to approve the action.
This is a terrible precedent to set, that anytime there is a problem
with wildlife to just slaughter them is not a way to solve the issue, she
said. The Humane Society of the United States says that Canada geese can be
effectively managed with nonlethal techniques like aversive
conditioning, egg addling and landscape management.
At the protest, as many as 30 people chanted slogans such as How many
geese did you gas today? Asked whether the protest was having any effect,
Ms. Birnkrant said: A lot of people are giving the thumbs up and are
supporting us. Some people dont even know that this is going on.
For their part, the authorities have said that the removal of the geese
is necessary and comes on top of other steps to protect the aviation system.
This new initiative will build on measures the Port Authority is already
taking to eliminate wildlife hazards at the airports, Chris Ward, the Port
Authoritys executive director, said in a statement last week, including
the installation of a state-of-the-art bird radar trial program at J.F.K.
Airport, hiring a second wildlife biologist two of only seven airport
biologists in the nation expanding shotgun training for field supervisors,
and returning to Rikers Island for the sixth straight year of roundups.
Martin Lowney, director of the Agriculture Departments Wildlife Services
program, said last week that research had shown that resident Canada geese
in several New York studies stay within five miles of a particular
location and that 74 percent of wildlife strikes occur at or near the
airport. Removing the geese will improve public safety without harm to the
species as a whole, he maintained.