A DOZEN GEESE SLAUGHTERED IN INWOOD HILL PARK
Part of annual culling to protect airplanes. Goose lovers are appalled.
BY RONALD CHAVEZ AND GERSH KUNTZMAN / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19, 2013, 11:42 AM
Canada geese like these were slaughtered in Inwood Hill Park early this morning.
Bird lovers in Inwood Hill Park were horrified Wednesday morning to learn that about a dozen Canada geese and goslings were rounded up and killed in the name of aviation safety.
The massacre was first reported by GooseWatch NYC, a watchbird group that was created after a much larger slaughter in Prospect Park in 2010.
“I’m in tears,” said Inwood resident Suzanne Soehner, a GooseWatch volunteer.
Soehner also complained that no advance notification was provided for the cover-of-darkness killing.
“This morning marks another dark day for wildlife in city parks,” said David Karopkin, founder and director of GooseWatch NYC. “New York City has contracted with USDA Wildlife Services, an agency known for its cruelty to animals and secrecy.”
City officials have defended the periodic killing of geese — called “culling” — as necessary to protect air traffic at LaGuardia and Kennedy airports. The city contracts out the actual killing to USDA wildlife officials.
Public enemy number one? This goose (right, with duck), photographed this week in Inwood Hill Park, is now dead, thanks to a federal massacre of Canada geese in the name of aviation safety.
United States Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Carol Bannerman declined to provide an exact number of victims of Wednesday’s killing, but reiterated that Inwood Hill Park is within the seven-mile bird-free zone that officials believe is necessary to protect planes.
“Canada geese are among the top five hazardous species or groups of birds to aviation,” Bannerman said. “Goose-aircraft strikes aren’t common (but) more than half are with multiple geese and three-quarters have an effect on the flight or cause damage.”
That said, there were 1,400 confirmed goose strikes between 1990 and 2012, or roughly 116 a year. But there are an estimated 87,000 flights per day, meaning bird strikes occur in one out of every 270,000 flights.
Lightning strikes airliners more often.
Still, goose strikes have been charged with bringing down aircraft. The Prospect Park goose slaughter, for example came after the famed “Miracle on the Hudson” safe landing of a US Airways plane by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in January, 2009 — a landing allegedly necessitated by a bird strike.
Geneviève Mathis, local member of Goose Watch NYC, said she cried when she saw the killing field.
The bird-free zone was expanded to seven miles around each airport after that near fatal crash.
Opponents say that culling does not solve the problem because other geese return to fill the bird-less vacuum.
“When you cull geese, they get replaced,” said Ken Paskar, president of Friends of LaGuardia Airport and a former lead safety representative for the FAA Safety Team.
“Aviation safety is being used as an excuse to kill the birds.”
The slaughter in Inwood Hill Park marks the start of the USDA killing season. Typically, agents capture and kill geese during the summer molt when they can’t fly.
“The geese are herded into a temporary enclosure, carried by hand to poultry crates and transported to a commercial processing facility,” said Bannerman. “The meat will be donated to food charities.”
In 2012, Bannerman said, the 290 geese collected at city properties yielded 258 pounds of meat to charities upstate, near the goose processing plants.