EVERYTHING IS WRONG WITH THE PLAN TO KILL GEESE
The current imbroglio concerning the NYC geese reminds us
of Rockland County, NY
in 1993. The town supervisor of Clarkstown announced that he was going to
kill 12,000 Canada geese. The startling news made local headlines leading to
the overnight formation of the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of
After checking with the local Audubon Society we found that there were
fewer than 2,500 geese in the entire county.
The Coalition consisted of folks from all walks of life: doctors, lawyers,
naturalists, business owners, hairdressers, investment bankers, and actors
came together to prevent the killing of the geese. I have no doubt that in
the case of Prospect Park, the citizens opposed to this senseless slaughter
consist of the same diversity of people; we might also add that they vote
and they are constituents of the politicians who proposed this cruel,
ineffective waste of communal resources.
In Rockland County, after the goose kill proceeded against the chorus of
disapproval from a substantial part of the community, the NYS Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the federal government's Wildlife
Services, a division of the USDA, swiftly moved from an advisory role to
municipalities regarding wildlife management to a public relations role.
They proposed serving the geese to the poor in an attempt to whitewash
this shameful action. Our Coalition discovered that in 'processing' the
goose flesh into a big amalgam referred to as a giant 'gooseburger,' lead
pellets were ground up along with the goose flesh. The DEC met with the NYS
Dept. of Health (DOH) to convince them to give the gooseburger with
lead-content a pass.
The DOH ruled that there was no NY State statutorily set maximum level
for lead for food products. There was a federal level but that only applied
to canned food. Even though the level of lead in the gooseburger exceeded
that federal level, it did not apply since the gooseburger had not been
stuffed into cans. This precious bit of civil service logic allowed the
distribution of lead to food banks and shelters.
The DOH's pronouncement went on to say that lead affected brain function
but, not to worry, older
people did not need their brains as much as children did, so it was all
right for the elderly poor to eat this flesh.
Only several random samples from the giant gooseburger were tested to
determine the average lead content. Consequently who ingests a high dose of
lead and who doesn’t is a frightening game of Russian roulette imposed upon
Further, hunters have called gooseflesh from molting geese foul. To lose
their feathers, the geese have to become feverish. It is like killing a
'sick' bird. Indigenous hunters of waterfowl would never eat the flesh of a
Giving Canada goose flesh to the indigent is the second assault on
another set of people. The first assault is on those with compassion for the
geese. Perhaps this second assault, a by-product of the killing, is the one
that would dissuade responsible local office-holders from allowing the game
agencies and Wildlife Services to whitewash their scheme.
Food banks told us they had to mix in so much regular hamburger that the
economic incentive for taking the flesh was wiped out. One center in upstate
NY had 100% of their recipients vote against accepting the flesh.
If animal flesh in general is a high risk food, wild animals in
particular pose a threat over and above captive raised animals. Their
exposure to unknown toxins, parasites, disease, illegal leadshot in the wild
make them unsuitable for human consumption.
In Rockland County, the Bear Mountain Museum and Zoo as well as the Bronx
Zoo refused to take the flesh for their animals, saying they wouldn't take
In 1997, Mary Brosnahan, then Executive Director of the NYC Coalition for
the Homeless, said the following:
The Coalition objects, in the strongest possible terms, to the plans by
Clarkstown officials to slaughter hundreds of Canadian Geese and to the use
of homeless New Yorkers to achieve that end. The plan to feed homeless
people the potentially tainted carcasses of these birds through a local soup
kitchen sets a dangerous double standard in which poor men, women and
children will eat unregulated and uninspected flesh.
The overpopulation of Canada geese is the result of intentional waterfowl
production on waterfowl production areas managed by the DEC. 'Waterfowl
Production Areas' (WPAs) are subsets of Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
Together, these areas contain more than 200,000 acres - including 124, 000
acres of upland and 53,000 acres of wetland. These thousands of acres of
WPAs are scattered throughout the state resulting in the production of prime
'game' species such as Canada geese. When the geese flee those areas due to
hunting, they seek refuge in our parks and campuses.
The obvious solution to the overpopulation of geese is to demand that the
US Fish and Wildlife Service and the NYS DEC stop increasing numbers of
geese and other waterfowl for recreational hunting.
Wildlife management's goal is to keep the hunting business going at
everyone's expense. We can't any longer risk the impact to human health and
safety, from airport risk to food
to the many environmental and societal ills that management of wildlife for
There are non-lethal methods that have been successfully used in Rockland
and other places, but the political will to use non-lethal methods has to be
there. We urge the readers of The New York Times to visit,
Anne Muller, Vice President of C.A.S.H. Committee to Abolish Sport