C.A.S.H. Letters to the Editor > 2011

C.A.S.H. Letters


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 Canada Geese.

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 foodbank recipients.

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 molting bird.

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 the risk.

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 risk, to the many environmental and societal ills that management of wildlife for hunting causes.

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, www.LOHV.org; and www.abolishsporthunting.org

Anne Muller, Vice President of C.A.S.H. Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
Cell: 914-388-5221

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