Protesters ramped up complaints about geese extermination outside Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Upper East Side home after one woman stumbled upon geese exterminators rounding up the animals in Inwood Hill Park.
Suzanne Soehner was walking her dog inside the park and says she stumbled upon federal wildlife officers preparing to kill dozens of Canada geese Tuesday morning.
The goose exterminators appeared to be part of New York City’s campaign to eliminate the birds, considered by the Bloomberg administration to be a threat to commercial airplanes.
Soehner told NBC New York she wanted to disrupt the team of goose killers, but was threatened by an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I said, 'Ok I’m going to go and see if I can scare off those geese to try to save their lives,' and he said, 'If you interfere with this in any way I’ll have you arrested.’”
Soehner estimated about 20 Canada geese were rounded up for extermination at Inwood Hill Park. Last year USDA wildlife officers killed 30 geese in the park.
The operation to capture and kill the geese that populate New York City parks comes in response to the bird strikes that brought down U.S. Airways Flight 1549, popularly known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.”
Bloomberg has insisted the only way to protect the flying public is to eliminate birds that live within a seven-mile radius of city airports.
In a statement released earlier this month, Cas Holloway, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, touted the success of the goose extermination.
“The population of resident Canada geese on city property near city airports is down significantly, roughly 50 percent since just last year,” Holloway said.
The DEP estimates the population of Canada geese in New York City was about 1,600 in 2010. Today about 800 geese remain.
In Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, 386 geese were killed last year. This year the city estimates about 16 geese are left.
The latest report of a goose slaughter in Inwood Hill Park stoked anger among animal rights crusaders.
Edita Birnkrant, who leads the New York chapter of a non-profit called Friends of Animals, quickly organized a protest in front of Bloomberg’s Upper East Side home.
“What our mayor has done is launched a violent plan to make an entire species of wildlife extinct and you see all these people here who are outraged by this. New Yorkers from every borough are here saying enough is enough.”
The Bloomberg administration has made one concession to critics of the goose extermination campaign.
The city is now pledging to send captured geese to a Pennsylvania poultry processor. The meat will be donated to feed the hungry.