Animal Defenders of Westchester

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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

Press Release


July 20, 2013

Kiley Blackman  
[email protected]   


WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY     July 20, 2013   The Department of Health has agreed to look into the USDA's questionable 'donations' of geese flesh resulting from controversial 'culls' at airports, etc, which is then being 'donated' to the Westchester Food Bank to put a nice charitable spin on slaughters being challenged all over the country as being pointless, totally avoidable and cruel.  'Culls' were just done at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife 'Refuge,' as well as many other NYC areas and in Cornwall, NY., and are being prepared for distribution now.

Far from being an altruistic gesture, the flesh of these birds is a suspect, tainted morass of jet fuel, heavy applications of pesticides, mercury and lead from roadways,  concentrations of carbon monoxide from heavy car traffic along parkways,  and the ingestion of carbon dioxide gas which is used to kill them.  They drink appx a cup of water daily from Long Island Sound, where beaches were just closed yet again due to leaks of raw sewage sludge.  Jean Grassman, associate professor of health and nutrition sciences at Brooklyn College, said a big issue with wild goose meat is a specific urban contaminant called polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB.  “The concern is that they’re developmental toxicants,” Grassman said. According to her, PCB levels are higher in aquatic systems, which is to say environments frequented by waterfowl like geese.  .

In fact, this tainted flesh poses such an incalculable health risk that it comes with a large 'Warning Label' attached to it, cautioning poor people to eat it no more than once a month!!  which was admitted proudly to by the Westchester Food Bank's own representative Jean Wilcox.  Wilcox stated it 'flew out of our inventory - so apparently they (the homeless) liked it.'  By this rationale, the Food Bank should be offering cigarettes, which are also enjoyed by many many people.  What Wilcox is saying is that poor people who have no choice are happy to get anything - because this same flesh is NOT sold in fancy restaurants to fancy people...and will Wilcox be sitting down to this monthly meal herself?  Wildcox was, however, concerned about the poor 'chipping their teeth on birdshot - since, according to Capital News, the other warning that came with the packaged breast meat was that there was a possibility that it contained birdshot—a type of shotgun shell, which could contain lead. The warning continued on, said Wilcox, advising that to avoid chipping teeth or swallowing the shell, anyone eating the meat should keep an eye out for shells while cutting it.   
“Gee, thanks,” said Wilcox. “It makes you terrified to chew on it.”   

Is it 'okay' to serve the homeless just 'a little' toxin' just a little poison,  when they have no other choice because they are poor.  Why do we not just scrape the remains off of restaurant plates and put it in a trough and feed that to the homeless?  Why don't we just feed poor people road kill?  Because of safety concerns...and human dignity as well.  

This toxic flesh is supposed to  be tested by NYS before being distributed - and there are doubts whether such testing, which can cost $100 per bird,  is always done.   In fact, the Coalition for the Homeless' own director, Mary Brosnahan, has spoken out vehemently against the practice of dumping toxic, pointlessly killed flesh on the poor, saying, '"The Coalition objects, in the strongest possible terms, to the plans by officials to slaughter hundreds of New York City's Canada 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 or food bank sets a dangerous double standard in which poor men, women and children will eat unregulated and insufficiently inspected flesh.  'In addition to the incalculable moral and ethical costs such needless killing entails,  there is the federal inspection and proper testing of the flesh for possible contaminants - if that was even done.  If not done, then Westchester food banks participated in a dangerous double standard in which poor men, women and children ate unregulated and insufficiently inspected flesh.'

Kiley Blackman, founder of Westchester4Geese who requested the Dept of Health check into the viability of this item, said, 'We had contacted the Food Bank a number of times to discuss this issue, and even offer them matching donations of food and monies equivalent to whatever this geese flesh would provide...unfortunately they won't even return phone calls - and we're wondering why.  There is no item sold in supermarkets, or in restaurants, that comes with a large 'warning label' on it to only eat it 'once a month.' If there's any suspicion at all, why aren't they erring on the side of safety by just not accepting it? This 'donated' toxin is being served to indigent children as well; children do not have as fully developed immune system as adults do - which is why they're more susceptible to the flu, etc - yet the USDA has no hesitation in providing it to poor children.  It just seems to be common sense that, if there's the slightest doubt about the quality of this flesh, that it should not be given out 'with a warning label,' as though that makes it acceptable.  It is possible that the inspection of this flesh - which is quite costly - wasn't even done at all: This is an organization that operates under the radar - The USDA is already under scrutiny for massive cruelty to animals, as well as being the recipient of lawsuits accusing them of discrimination - its not right that they get to put a 'band-aid' on their bad deeds, at the expense of people who are in trouble, homeless and worse.  I was poor once myself - and though you're always thankful for a helping hand, I'm not sure if I would have appreciated this one.'

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