Geese Bounce Back Despite NYC's Mass Kill Plan

Photo: via unforth (Flickr)

Prompted by 2009's bird-related crash-landing of an airplane onto the Hudson River, last month New York City officials went ahead with a plan to euthanize more than 170,000 Canadian geese, out of a statewide population of 250,000. With recent statistics showing that bird strikes are on the rise (and an estimated 80 percent of them going unreported) all of this means that the geese are unwitting targets for imminent elimination, in the name of aviation safety.

And the result? They keep coming back.They got the wrong geese
More than a month has passed since a trial cull of a unknown number of geese was implemented around the city, angering some residents and wildlife organizations. Last summer, a number of geese were culled in the aftermath of US Airways 1549. And last month in Prospect Park alone, 400 resident geese were rounded up and gassed, sparking impassioned local protests that ranged from "rest in peace, geese" to accusations of "murder".

Last week, however, over a 100 new geese were spotted back on the park's lake, prompting the question whether authorities targeted the right feathered culprits. Apparently, there's a difference between migratory geese populations and year-round residents, even though they are difficult to distinguish right off the bat, even for biologists. According to the New York Times:

[..] the mass kill in July infuriated Brooklyn residents and wildlife advocates, who were quick to point out that the geese that brought down the flight were migratory, not resident.

[..] Officials want to eliminate most of the geese that live within seven miles of [LaGuardia and Kennedy] airports. The Agriculture Department has not yet completed a report on the exact number of geese killed this summer, a spokeswoman said.

But is culling the only way to go? Critics of the mass cull point out that killing geese is the "easy way out" -- serving only to clear space for newcomers to move in. They maintain that other methods -- like better public education, scaring geese away with dogs, coating eggs with oil to hinder hatching, or alternative landscaping interventions -- would produce better results, without the need for a massacre. So with a conundrum of all-too-successful bird conservation going head-to-head with air safety, it could be very well shape up to be an unfair battle between bird and human.

More on Geese
80% of Bird Strikes Are Not Reported to FAA, Biologist Says
Focus on Focus Earth: Air Safety Vs. Geese, An Unfair Battle

Tags: Airplanes | Birds | Conservation | United States

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