NYC plans to
NYC implements plans to exterminate area geese, are there
alternatives?copyright (c) 2021 Frania Shelley-Grielen. All rights reserved.
The city of New York began a program in June of 2009 to exterminate 2,000 local
area geese. The geese being targeted are those found within a five mile radius of JFK
and LaGuardia Airports in an attempt to insure airline safety.
Canada geese are believed to be the reason for the splash landing of US Airways
flight 1549 last January. Forensic evidence from feathers retrieved from the plane’s
engines has shown that the geese involved in the incident were migratory geese
flying from Canada and not the local geese population that are the object of the
termination efforts. Efforts to extinguish the geese are timed to begin with the bird’s
molting season, wherein they loose older wing feathers, raise young and are unable
to fly. According to a story published in the June 12, 2009 edition of The New York
Times, the city plans to gas the majority of the geese. There are no plans to donate
the bodies of the geese to local area food banks.
The Humane Society of the United States has objected to the plan advocating
alternative non-violent tactics that would basically serve to alter the environment
so that it is no longer attractive to the geese. Hazing or the use of recorded
“screamer” goose calls, balloons and scarecrows are some strategies that deter
geese. The New York Times reported that although the city has rejected these
recommendations a bird radar has been installed at Kennedy airport on a trial
Over the last forty years North America has seen a dramatic increase in the Canada
goose populations that do not migrate but rather reside year round in our area.
During this period changes in our agricultural practices have resulting in more
than tripled corn production, and more than doubled production of wheat and rice,
all a favored food of geese. The substantial increase in the use of nitrogenous
fertilizer has enabled us to grow more foodstuffs as well as have greener lawns, an
added goose appeal.
Wildlife biologists have been battling management of the Canada goose populations
with human interests for some time with varied success. Bryan L. Swift reported
on studies conducted by the New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation from 1993-2000 in Rockland County. The most effective techniques
to manage geese populations were found in the use of border collies to chase geese
from areas (although geese do tend to settle in other nearby areas). Egg-addling
(puncturing goose eggs to prevent hatching) will also reduce goose populations. All
management efforts require coordination and labor and Dr. Swift concluded this
might most effectively be done with the use of “municipal ‘goose control officers.’”
Mark Hostetler and David Drake, both wildlife biologists recently published an
article in Landscape and Urban Planning. The scientists reviewed the current
popularity of conservation subdivisions, a design concept wherein newly built
homes are clustered together to maximize open green space for conservation
purposes. While a popular idea, the actual practice has resulted in human
The idea of sharing our habitat with wildlife may take some getting used to and
require more space to do it in. We may want to view deer in the wild but not in
our flower beds. And golfers and geese have different uses for grass. Coyotes,
mountain lions and alligators all consider companion animals fair prey not pets.
The writers point out that clustering homes in a corner of the subdivision rather
than throughout it creates a larger and more usable conservation area for wildlife.
Another key concept invoked is working with wildlife biologists in all phases of the
development process, including the inclusion of an “on-site robust education
program that would address wildlife issues and conservation and would describe
the best management practices (and the importance thereof) for maintaining the
biological integrity of the conserved areas.” Signage, homeowner associations, local
websites and restrictive covenants are all proposed as implementing guidelines.
For more information: The geese are rounded up into wooden crates with the use of force and
taken to a separate location to be gassed. This process is highly stressful to the birds. A much
more humane practice would be to exterminate the animals at the capture site. The Gothamist
has been covering this story from an animal welfare perspective on a daily basis.
Swift, Brian, L. (2000). Suburban goose management: insights from New York state, The Ninth
Wildlife Damage Management Conference Proceedings, State College, PA, Lincoln: Internet Center
for Wildlife Damage Management
Hostetler, H.A.& Drake, D. (2009) Conservation subdivisions: A wildlife perspective. Landscape
and Urban Planning (90) 95–101
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|"The most effective techniques
to manage geese populations
were found in the use of border
collies to chase geese from
areas (although geese do tend
to settle in other nearby areas).
Egg-addling (puncturing goose
eggs to prevent hatching) will
also reduce goose populations.
All management efforts require
coordination and labor and Dr.
Swift concluded this might most
effectively be done with the use
of “municipal ‘goose control
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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