NYC plans to
NYC implements plans to exterminate area geese, are there
alternatives? copyright 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 basis.
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 wildlife conflicts.
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
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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