Geese-Kill Protesters to Rally at Bloomberg's Mansion

Friends of Animals' NY director weighs in on geese gassing

By Jillian Scharr
|  Friday, Aug 6, 2010  |  Updated 5:55 PM EDT
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Geese-Kill Protesters to Rally at Bloomberg's Mansion

"It's geese or human beings," said Bloomberg at a press conference in July.

A reported 170,000 New York state geese are scheduled to be exterminated in the name of aviation safety, and that has some New Yorkers honking mad.

“Birds nest, and birds move on,"  said Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, in a press release.  “Stop this killing, and let birds be birds.”

To get their message heard, the Friends of Animals plan to protest on Monday night, 6 to 8 p.m. in front of Mayor Bloomberg's  mansion on East 79th Street.  

"There are so many proven effective techniques that go to the root of the problem with the geese [rather] than wasting tax dollars on this really brutal gas chamber death plan,"  Friends of Animals' NY Director Edita Birnkrant told NBCNewYork.  "That's why we're taking it to his door: because he is ignoring the will of the people."

According to the geese extermination plan, first obtained by The New York Times. "The population of resident Canada geese needs to be reduced in metropolitan New York City to protect aviation safety." The plan is to gas "all resident Canada geese...within 5 miles of airports in metropolitan New York City." 

The plan comes from five months of meetings after the US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese mid-flight and lost both engines in an emergency landing on the Hudson River, but the mayor probably did not ingratiate himself to geese-lovers when he voiced unequivocal support for the plan.

 "Look, the Department of Agriculture has to deal with the fact that all these geese are a danger to people flying.  People are not going to stop flying and we have to make a decision." Bloomberg told the Wall Street Journal. "It's geese or human beings -- I can tell you where I come out on that.  I don't think you need a quote from me."

There are more cost-effective ways of managing geese populations, Birnkrant told NBCNewYork.  She put forth the theory of "habitat modification," landscaping the area around airports so that geese will nest elsewhere. 

"They like open spaces," said Birnkrant, "so plant some native grasses... shrubs, trees, a lot of those things turn species from the area."  She also mentioned that "the military uses advanced bird radar technology that's very successful."

Additionally, according to Birnkrant the targeted geese are the non-migratory species of Canada goose and don't fly high enough to threaten airplanes.

"They're using the safety angle as an excuse to really thin out the goose population," said Birnkant. "[The geese] are seen by government agencies as nuisances."

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