by Steve Mosco
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.
By Steve Mosco
Photo by Steve Mosco
Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, joined GooseWatch NYC
to stand guard over birds in city parks.
Photo by Steve Mosco
A gosling takes some of its first steps in Rosedale's Brookville Park.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone