Fewer geese slaughtered near Queens airports as safety measure

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More than 200 Canada geese were corralled and slaughtered in the city last week as part of the federal government’s attempt to prevent bird strikes near high-traffic airports, but officials said the casualty count is on the decline.

The United States Department of Agriculture removed a total of 255 geese from 12 city parks within a seven-mile radius of LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports last week, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

This year’s roundup total fell from 575 last year and has drastically declined from a 1,357 count in 2010, according to the DEP.

The mitigation measure — the fourth year it has been renewed — is conducted to control the city’s goose population and prevent bird strikes like those responsible for the emergency landings of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in 2009 and most recently Delta Flight 1063, officials said.

The city said the removal process is “straightforward and humane,” adding that the geese processed for breast meat will be donated for the first time to the state and distributed through local food pantries.

But the mitigation measures continue to draw heat from animal advocates, who protest the killings each year.

“This indiscriminate slaughter is inhumane, ineffective and not supported by science,” said Patrick Kwan, New York State director for the Humane Society of the United States. “It is the wrong way to address the goose population, especially when more humane and scientific solutions exist and have been successfully implemented in Prospect Park and Central Park.”

No geese were removed from Prospect Park this year for the second time in a row. Kwan pointed to goose management programs implemented last year as a major reason for the reprieve of the park’s fowl.

As part of the program, the public is discouraged from feeding wildlife, trained herding dogs are used to move geese out of the park, and eggs are treated to prevent population growth.

Kwan urged the state to make airports and surrounding areas more undesirable for the geese — while preventing flock growth — instead of killing them en masse each year.

“Many of the geese who are currently being rounded up and killed would have never been hatched if the city had adopted the humane goose management plan we have proposed since 2009,” he said.