For Air Safety, 400 Prospect Park Geese Are Killed

For Air Safety, 400 Prospect Park Geese Are Killed

By ISOLDE RAFTERY

They are a familiar sight around the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Canada geese, scores of them. To some residents of nearby neighborhoods, the birds and their fuzzy offspring are charming hints of wildlife amid the bricks of the city. Recently, when one was found with a crossbow bolt through its neck, park rangers tried to corral it to administer first aid.
But then, over the last few days, parkgoers noticed something strange.
The Canada geese were gone. All 400 of them.

On Monday, they learned the truth. Wildlife biologists and technicians descended on the park Thursday morning and netted the birds. The biologists, who work with the wildlife services division of the Department of Agriculture, then packed the geese two or three to a crate and took them to a facility where they were gassed with lethal doses of carbon dioxide, said Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the wildlife services division.

The authorities have been thinning the region’s ranks of the geese since two of them flew into the engines of a US Airways plane carrying Flight 1549 in January 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River. Last summer, 1,200 were rounded up around the city. But the Prospect Park roundup appears to have been the single biggest episode. The goal is to eliminate all of the geese within seven miles of major area airports. Prospect Park is 6.5 miles in a direct line from both La Guardia Airport and Kennedy Airport.
Still, the scope of the Prospect Park episode mortified some of those who have grown fond of the geese.
“It’s a horrible end,” said Anne-Katrin Titze, who went to the park nearly every morning to feed the geese. “It’s eerie to see a whole population gone.

There’s not one goose on this lake. It looks as though they’ve been Photoshopped out.”
In recent weeks, the Canada geese have begun their annual molting, meaning they could not fly. Their capturers took advantage of this fact.
Ms. Bannerman said the measure was necessary.
“The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety,” she said. “In general, the resident Canada goose population has quadrupled in 20 years.”
Susan Elbin, conservation director at New York City Audubon, was cautiously supportive of mass euthanization. “There are ways to manage birds nonlethally,” she said. “But if you’re trying to manage a population level, sometimes those hard decisions need to be made.”

Gone in the roundup, apparently, was a goose known alternately as Sticky or Target, who was discovered with a crossbow bolt through his neck last month. Park rangers tried and failed to catch the bird, in a bid to help nurse him back to health. They were unaware that he would be gassed to death mere weeks later.
A goose found last season with a damaged beak, which Brooklynites living right outside the park had tried to help, was also believed to have been killed.
The absence of the birds was noticed by park enthusiasts and landscapers, though officials at Prospect Park were not notified of their removal. The geese there were believed to be year-round residents of the lake.

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