Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our New War on Canada -- Geese, that is. (Reply)

LA Mahoney writes: It's not just Prospect Park, but here in Westchester County, suddenly all the geese have disappeared in a mass slaughter. It's a horror and a disgrace. Officials now want to expand the massacre to 17 states. I am sickened by my barbaric species. It's so sad to drive along park areas (where people don't even go) and by a pond in an unused part of a Westchester cemetary and it's dead, not one goose or gosling left.

Reply: It is all over as you seemed to have tragically discovered.

These slaughters are complex as they involve many layers of bureaucracy and governmental agencies. USDA usally acts as the "hired guns" entering into paid contracts with various communities and park services to "remove" (in the sense of the Sopranos) Canada Geese.

But, Canada geese are also protected under federal law, specifically the "Migratory Bird Act Treaty."

The problem is there are all kinds of amendments and exceptions to the law.

These amenments can refer to airport safety (Geese can be "taken" at certain times of the year if residing within three miles of an airport.) They can refer to population control issues, "nuisance," health and other issues.

I am not a lawyer, but as I understand the basics of the laws that apply, when "taking out" geese for reasons other than airline safety, it is incumbant upon the planners and doers to show just cause why the geese have to be removed. Environmental Impact Statments also have to be done, as well as notice to the community. In addition, lethal removals are only supposed to occur when non-lethal alternatives have been utilized and proven to have failed.

To my knowledge, none of these things were done at Prospect Park.

The justification for the Prospect Park gassing of up to 400 Canada Geese was claimed to be "airline safety." But, Prospect Park is very far from the "three miles" specified in federal law and according to different accounts, outside the "7-mile" radios deemed by the city of New York to represent a "hazard" to airline safety. As matters appear now, we have been lied to with regard to exactly why the Prospect Park geese were rounded up and gassed.

I can't speak to the community you write of with regard to the justification for (as you claim) rounding up and killing all the geese. If you are not near a major airport, then the measures as cited above should have been implemnted BEFORE any "removals."

It sounds like you need to do some investigation or perhaps ask a local reporter to look into the story.

Because, if the residents of communities where these slaughters are occuring simply throw up their hands and accept the carnage without question, it is to guarantee there will be many more, not just where you live, but everywhere.

The residents near Prospect Park did not just throw up their hands and tacitly accept the massacre without question and protest.

Many have organized against it and have put up a Facebook page specifically to probe and address this issue. In less than a few weeks, it already has generated almost 500 new members.

I urge you to go to this site, sign up and read the many dozens of articles that have been posted to address this NATIONAL issue as well as other information.

I hope that you don't object to me quoting your post on the FB page, though since I do not have your permission to do so, I will not use your name.

Thank you for bringing this to attention, but to be honest, you need to find out a great deal more information. The first place to start perhaps would be to call local officials with jurisdiction over the area to verify if in fact, a "removal" of the geese actually occurred. Some geese seek out special places while they are "molting," but then as soon as their new feathers grow in, they move somewhere else.

Roundups and gassings can only occur while the geese are molting and unable to fly (June through July). But, many geese are already flying now and can technically get away. The official time for roundups and gassings is thus over for this year.

Please share with us any information you are able to confirm and verify. Thanks, again. -- PCA

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Prospect Park Great Goose Massacre of 2010

(Picture Left: Canada Goose family. Papa goose [with head up], Mother goose, in rear and goslings at Central Park)

The Prospect Park great goose massacre of 2010 was unique.

For one matter, there was no notification to the people of the community. Even Martin Lowney of the state dept. of Fish and Wildlife admits, "There was a breakdown in communications."

That the clandestine raid on the highly social, resident geese at Prospect Park was conducted in the wee hours of the morning when the park was closed to the public insured that there were no media or lay persons around to shoot photos or video. No "Youtube" moments to document this operation for what it truly was: An exercise in barbarity, cruelty and probable law-breaking -- including, federal law.

One needs to truly imagine this scene:

Entire families of geese which include forever-mated parent geese and their goslings. Geese who are more than accustomed to walking up to humans, as they have learned to trust people over the course of many months or even years. Geese who, while they are molting, are unable to fly and escape.

According to new reports, the geese were corralled into a confined space and their feet were bound with plastic ties.

Knowing how parents geese will protect and defend their young, this had to be a scene right out of a Stephen King horror novel.

What kind of thugs did the city and USDA hire to grab and bound the struggling birds' feet with plastic ties?

Though large, adult Canada Geese weigh only around 8 lbs. They are mostly feathers. Since they don't have fangs to bite, their only possible weapon to defend themselves were their feet. How many men did it require to grab and bound the birds feet?

After the binding, the geese were stuffed two to three to crates.

And that's the point where even the news reports become "murky."

Although it is now almost two weeks after the slaughter, we still don't know whether the doomed geese were taken to some "building" and gassed or were gassed on site by being shoved into special trucks.

This is totally unacceptable.

There is NO EVIDENCE.....repeat, NO EVIDENCE to suggest that there was anything at all "humane" about this roundup, binding and gassing with CO2 of almost 300 defenseless Canada Geese.

That numerous bureaucrats and defenders of this carnage are able to get away using the term, "euthanasia" to describe this mass extermination without challenge is a disgrace to the entire humane movement as well as the city of New York and its leaders.

It totally debases and renders meaningless, the term, "euthanasia."

These geese were not sick nor were they killed painlessly or humanely.

Gassing by CO2 is a horrible way to die. Make no mistake about that. It takes the individual animal at least five minutes to die this way.

Moreover, very young animals like kittens, puppies and presumably, goslings can survive gas chambers.

Who was doing the checking to be sure the geese were actually dead before being stuffed into garbage bags and being disposed of at some "undisclosed" landfill?

And if all of this wasn't horrific enough, add to it, the fact that according to the NY Times, Prospect Park is more than 9 miles from either airport.

Presuming that is true, then Prospect Park was out of the "7 mile radios" deemed by the city to represent "hazard" from possible bird strikes to planes.

There was therefore, seemingly no legal justification for the vicious round-up and slaughter of these innocent, gentle and supposedly "protected" migratory species of bird.

This wee hours of the morning massacre seems to scream for Freedom of Information requests and possible lawsuits. -- PCA


Monday, July 19, 2010

Lessons of the Geese -- must see video

(Part of a surviving family of Canada geese at Prospect Park. The older, (father?) goose of this group presumably sensed the danger and sucessfully led his family away from the carnage.)

I really love this and offer it to others as truly inspiring, as well as informative about a particular species of bird who instead of earning our awe and admiration has incurred our wrath and persecution.

Please take the three minutes to view this video and share with your friends.

Also, please join this Facebook page if you too, care about the latest victims in our never-ending war on wildlife and want to do something about it:

Thanks, so much. -- PCA

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Please attend the vigil being held tonight to memorialize and honor the 400 beloved Canada Geese ruthlessly and brutally slain last week.

The birds (and their goslings) were mercilessly rounded-up, feet-bound, stuffed 2 to 3 into small crates, transported to some "undisclosed building location" and crammed into gas chambers where it took each struggling bird at least five minutes to die.

That was NOT, repeat, NOT "removal and euthanasia." It was a mass massacre and the lifeless bodies of 400 (formerly) beautiful geese were dumped in some unspecified landfill to further contaminate our environment.

(One is forced to wonder where the "building" is in Brooklyn that serves as a avian gas chamber?)

Date: Saturday, July 17 (TODAY!)

Time: 6:30 PM. (Please try to bring 8x10 photo or xerox of Canada Goose)

Place: The south side of Lake at Prospect Park (near playground and Gazebo)

Please know that these atrocities are not only occuring in New York City parks, but in fact, all over the country under the watch and permission of our local, state and federal elected officials.

Be sure to call the offices of ALL of your elected officicals (especially our Mayor at 311) to express your protest. You can easily obtain their names and numbers from the League of Women Voters (212) 725-3541.

Also, please go to and join the special Facebook page set up to address and hopefully prevent this kind of carnage in the future.

We need to insure that this kind of affront and atrocity towards NYC wildlife never occurs again in our city parks and surrounding areas.

The animals in our parks belong to the people, not a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington DC, who for the most part, have probably never come closer to a Canada Goose then to blow them out of the sky. -- FOR SHAME! -- PCA

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Killing (and now Defending) Mother Goose

(Picture Left: "Mother Goose" and family at Turtle Pond.)
Please take time to read the Editorial from yesterday's New York Post, (below) which truly says it all. A letter to the Editor ( ) is also a good idea, as well as letters to the NY Times, which gratefully, has also covered this issue well and was first to break the story: ( )

There is a reason geese are lovingly portrayed in childhood fables and nursery rhymes of "Mother Goose."

It is because of the gentle nature of these birds and their outstanding parenting and protection skills towards their young.

If Canada Geese have proliferated despite all of man's attempts to "eradicate," "remove," hunt, gas, harass and destroy, it is mostly due to the strong family ties of these birds, as well as their organizational, communicational and parental protection skills.

Indeed, these are qualities that one might think should be greatly admired, respected and even emulated.

Instead, Canada geese have been vilified for their devotion to their young and to each other. They are slaughtered for their abilities to survive and proliferate against great odds.

For shame on us as the truly inferior species to the magnificent geese in terms of human abuse and abandonment to children, high divorce rates, assorted "anxiety disorders," and domestic violence and murder.

Perhaps it is more envy and jealousy that compels us of to launch nationwide "eradication" campaigns against the regal and gregarious Canada Geese? Perhaps they remind us too much of our inadequacies?

After all, humans on our own, cannot fly.

And no fables or nursery rhymes are dedicated to "Mother Human." -- PCA


Please save the date for a vigil in the park on this coming Saturday July 17th at 6:30 p.m. by the lake on Prospect Park's Southwest Side near the Vanderbilt Playground and Gazebo. We will spend some time honoring the geese recently massacred by government officials with the park's permission. We will place xeroxes of the geese by the water, we're looking into getting 400 xeroxes, one for each goose killed. Please make copies if you can, and bring them. More info to come...

This information comes from:

Facebook For the love of the geese in Prospect Park

Another website covering this issue:

Facebook Prospect Park

HSUS Urges Hault to Goose Slaughter -- Press Release

(Picture Left: Two of the now grown goslings at Turtle Pond.)

Introduction: The below is a press release just issued by The Humane Society of the United States.

While we greatly applaud the call to stop the goose killings, it comes too late for the thousands of Canada Geese who have already been rounded up in the New York area and slaughtered in "undisclosed locations."

Nevertheless, the statement from HSUS must be used to pressure federal, state and local leaders to immediately cease and disist (for now and the future) the vicious clandestine operations being conducted all over the country of round up and kill of Canada geese. Actions must instead be directed towards implementation of the humane alternatives as suggested in the press release.

These efforts are ongoing and must continue despite the fact the geese will soon be able to fly again. There is next year and the following years to consider. -- PCA


The Humane Society of the United States Urges Halt to Goose Slaughter

NEW YORK (July 14, 2010) -

The Humane Society of the United States calls on New York officials to immediately halt its program to kill resident Canada geese and work instead on a plan that will truly protect public safety and clears the geese from certain areas.

News outlets have reported that many New Yorkers are also distressed about the city's contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture which resulted in the recent killing of 400 resident Canada geese in Brooklyn's Prospect Park and includes plans to round up more geese this week.

"This inhumane, ineffective and costly contract is the wrong way to address the goose population," said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. Scientists at the Smithsonian Institute have examined feather remains from the 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 bird strike and determined that the Canada geese involved were from a migrating population, not the local resident populations targeted by these roundups.

Many of the geese now being killed would never have been hatched if the city had adopted The HSUS' recommendations in 2009 to implement a comprehensive program to render goose eggs unviable, along with other effective tactics.

Communities across the country have had tremendous success with such programs that include treating eggs so they don't hatch, modifying habitats so they don't attract geese, and using trained dogs to make geese fly elsewhere.

A comprehensive, transparent and publicly supported management plan which includes these components is sorely needed to address the goose issue.

The HSUS offers extensive resources for developing programs to humanely reduce conflicts with geese and other wild animals.

Facts* Airport safety programs can keep the flying public safe and can be humane. The best programs use long-term strategies to permanently reduce the conditions that attract geese to airports.

* Killing geese merely opens habitat for other geese to fill. The answer is to treat the problem at the source-make airports and surrounding areas undesirable habitat to the birds while preventing flock growth with egg addling programs.

* Federal law protects Canada geese; however, that only means that people cannot harm birds without US Fish and Wildlife Service permission.
See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization - backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty - On the web at Humane Society of the United States2100 L Street, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20037 Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Canada Goose Killings - What Do We Tell Our Children? What Do We Tell Ourselves?

One has to wonder what the parents of children who've grown up admiring the geese of Prospect Park will answer when asked, "Mommy, what happened to the geese?"

Should they tell them, "The geese flew off to Disneyworld?" Or, should they voice the truth:

"Our government decided to round up and gas them all."

It is a hideous message when our city and federal officials communicate to us that we'd better not get too cozy or nature-loving with the wildlife in our parks less we show up one day to find all the animals gone.

Gone in clandestine, middle of the night, swoops from men with nets, cages and secret, hidden buildings where the screams of the victims cannot be heard by public or filmed by media as the poisoned gas infiltrates the victims' lungs and suffocates their lives away.

For shame on our Mayor, Brooklyn Parks Department, Federal officials and most of all, any human that would sit back and allow atrocity like this to occur with nary a protest. -- PCA


The True Superior Species? -- Reply

(Picture Left: The family of Canada Geese at Turtle Pond. Note the Mama Mallard and four duckings at top of photo. "Marina" (the mama duck) also keeps her ducklings near the geese family at night. Both families sleep within mere feet of each other. Apparently, the Mother duck appreciates and takes advantage of the sentry and protection qualties that the goose family provides.)

Amby111 writes: This is sick. And to think humans introduced the geese in the first place! The same thing just happened in our community in VA. Only publicized after the fact...people here are very angry about it.

Reply: Its really important to put that anger into some kind of constructive action in attempt to prevent the same thing happening next year.

Gather what information you can, research the facts about Canada Geese and then contact proper authorities. Try to find and network with others who are as distraught about this kind of undercover, insidious carnage as you are. Try to find any sympathetic reporters. If necessary (and it sounds like it is) try and organize protests.

Canada Geese are doomed if they do (migrate) and doomed if they don't.

We either accuse them of being murderers (by colliding with planes) or "pests" if they remain in a park or golf course.

But, as you note, we introduced geese to many of our areas in the first place -- mainly as targets for hunters' guns.

The fact Canada Geese have managed to endure and even thrive despite all our attempts to harass them (with dogs), shoot them, or round-up (when they are completely defenseless) and gas, is testament to their extraordinary parental, communicational, organizational and adaptational skills.

Indeed, the Canada Goose's greatest enemy is human.

We nurture and gain their trust, only to ultimately betray them.

Sad statement about our own species, but certainly a tribute to theirs. -- PCA


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

400 (Prospect) Park Geese Die, for Human Fliers' Sake (NY Times)

(Picture left: "Father Love." -- The daddy goose at Turtle Pond tenderly tending to gosling in mid May.)

New York Times article below. Even "Target," the goose who survived an arrow in his neck, was not exempt from this outrage. Please call, 311, the city's hotline number to protest this barbaity and insanity. -- PC

July 12, 2010


NY Times

They have been a familiar sight around the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Canada geese, scores of them. To some residents, the birds and their fuzzy offspring are charming hints of wildlife amid the bricks of the city. Recently, when one was found with an arrow 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 geese were gone. Nearly 400 of them.

On Monday, the answer emerged. Wildlife biologists and technicians had descended on the park Thursday morning and herded the birds into a fenced area. The biologists, working with the federal Agriculture Department, then packed the geese two or three to a crate and took them to a nearby building where they were gassed with lethal doses of carbon dioxide, Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman, said.

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 New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold.”

The authorities have been thinning the region’s ranks of geese since some of them flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in January 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River. Last summer, 1,235 were rounded up at 17 sites around the city and later killed. But the Prospect Park culling appears to be among the biggest, and its scope mortified some residents.

“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.”

Ms. Titze and her partner, Ed Bahlman, noticed that the geese were missing on their regular trip to the park on Thursday. The couple found plastic zip-tie restraints in a pile near gosling feathers. They learned what had happened to the geese from news reports on Monday.

“The fact that this was done without letting the public know is the first concern,” Mr. Bahlman said. “There were so many people in the park over the last four days who noticed the geese were gone.”

In recent weeks, the Canada geese have begun their annual molting, meaning they could not fly. Their capture was timed to the molting.
Susan Elbin, conservation director at New York City Audubon, was cautiously supportive of the mass euthanizing.

“There are ways to manage birds nonlethally,” Ms. Elbin said. “But if you’re trying to manage a population level, sometimes those hard decisions need to be made.”

The goal is to eliminate most of the geese within seven miles of the major airports in the region. Prospect Park is 6.5 miles from both La Guardia Airport and Kennedy Airport.
Seth Kaplan, a teacher who lives two blocks from Prospect Park, said he was crushed when he heard what had happened. Mr. Kaplan, who spends nearly every day in the park, had recently circulated a video of the goslings.

“It’s really important to remember that the Canada geese that collided with Flight 1549 were tested by researchers at the Smithsonian and they were not populations that lived in our area,” Mr. Kaplan said. Most of the Prospect Park geese that were gassed were resident.
Gone in the roundup, apparently, was a goose known alternately as Sticky or Target, who was discovered with an arrow through his neck last month. Park rangers tried and failed to catch the bird in a bid to nurse him back to health.

A goose found last year with a damaged beak, which Brooklynites living near the park had tried to help, was also believed to have been killed.

City parks officials granted signed permission for the removal of the birds but said they had not been notified of the specifics. They declined to comment further, referring the matter to the Agriculture Department.

Over the weekend, four geese were spotted in the lake.

Most of the geese at the park were probably year-round residents, said Paul D. Curtis, an associate professor of wildlife sciences at Cornell University. Dr. Curtis said there were two types of Canada geese in the region: those that migrate north to nest during the summer and those that stay close to the city. Even to biologists, Dr. Curtis said, they are nearly indistinguishable.
In the early 1900s, Canada geese were nearly extinct. In an effort to rebuild the population, they were brought to New York from the Midwest. In the 1930s, geese were added to be hunted.

Agriculture Department specialists started removing geese this year in mid-June. They expect to complete their schedule of roundups by the end of the week, Ms. Bannerman said.

Elsewhere in the country, nuisance wildlife birds are usually chased away by border collies or firecrackers. But in New York, Ms. Bannerman said, there is no relocation program for the geese, and they must be euthanized. Another method for controlling the birds is coating their eggs with corn oil, to prevent them from hatching.

The carcasses of the Prospect Park geese will be double-bagged and dumped in a landfill. Other states use different methods, like turning the geese into food or animal feed. This year, the Agriculture Department donated 900 pounds of goose breast to food pantries in Pennsylvania.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pennsylvania (and Human) Shame. - Video Alert.

Please take the time to watch this important video which shows a pigeon being rescued from the shameful pigeon shoot in Pennsylvania which takes place every year.

Hundreds of pigeons are illegally netted in New York City and sent to Pennsylvania to be used as targets in a so-called "sport" that only Satan could appreciate. The ASPCA and police department do nothing to stop it.

If you can, please donate online to the organization (SHARK) responsible for this rescue, obtaining the video footage and risking life and safety to confront and oppose this barbarism.

Please note how injured, bullet-ridden pigeons are killed by the "big, brave hunters!" Note other injured birds drowing in waters or left to die slowly and hideously where they land.-- Ad nauseum.

Thank you. -- PCA


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Binky's Dilemma

(Pictures: 1-- A young man enjoying the goose family. 2-- Binky [left] with a sibling. 3--Children Meeting Children. -- the goslings greeting kindly children and parents.)
"It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

These days, due to the intense frustrations in dog and cat rescue and placement, I am spending most free time either drowning sorrows in a swimming pool or learning what I can about the intriguing wildlife in Central Park. -- It is to light a lot of candles.

This morning I went with my dogs to Turtle Pond to check on (as always) the beautiful family of Canadian Geese.

To my surprise and delight, I discovered I am only one of many people closely following the growth and progress of these sweet and magnificent birds.

A number of us are concerned about one of the goslings whom I call, "Binky."

The undersides of Binky's wings stick out at peculiar angles as if they are either broken or deformed.

I noticed this oddity fairly early in the gosling's development.

Either Binky was born with a deformity (in which case, it's to the parent's credit that they did not abandon him) or Binky was injured early on, perhaps by the large, Snapping Turtle at the pond.

As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Papa goose walks with a pronounced limp so it might be surmised there was some kind of battle (attack from a predator or dog?) early in the family's history.

In any event, Binky's disability does not seem to be a problem -- for the moment.

The parents accept and bravely protect him as much as the other goslings. Binky is able to swim, walk and eat normally. He (or she) is in fact, the friendliest and most trusting of the goslings to people. He is usually the first one to approach humans!

But, it is almost certain that Binky will be unable to fly.

Right now, none of the geese are flying. The parents very recently molted and I am not sure if the goslings are yet old enough to fly, though all (including, poor Binky) are flapping their wings in presumed preparation for flying.

But, one has to wonder what will become of Binky, once the rest of the family starts flying?

One woman encountered this morning seemed confident that Binky would easily survive at Turtle Pond.

"It's safe here for him," she said.

Yes, for now that is true, because it is summer and Binky has the protection and companionship of his family and plenty of food.

But, in the winter, all the water freezes to solid ice at Turtle Pond and virtually all the geese and ducks move over to the Reservoir, which always seems to maintain some unfrozen water.

Unless Binky's wings miraculously heal by winter or the parent geese figure out some way to protect him, it seems some of us (humans) might have to plan a rescue for him.

But, it is to soon to worry about that now. For sure, the parents would act to protect were anything to be attempted now.

This morning, the parent geese hung back and carefully observed while the adventurous goslings approached several very well behaved children, parents and other people on the rocks near the pond.

It was truly a joy to watch.

Its wonderful to see some parents showing children how to approach, appreciate and learn about animals. Its good to know I am not the only one who cares about and revels in the Canadian Geese family.

This is one goose family that I don't think we have to worry about the city or Parks Department harassing or rounding up and gassing.

Too many park goers care about and are diligently monitoring them.

In fact, one gentleman told me this morning of how the parent geese "outsmarted" the Parks Department this year!

"Yes," he laughed, "In past years, the park workers would confiscate or turn the eggs. But, this time, the Mama goose laid her eggs at the base of the rocks in front of the (Belvedere) castle. Both parents would sit on them. But, in order to get to those eggs, park workers would have needed a boat. I guess they figured it was too much trouble, so they let the eggs hatch."

"That's fascinating!" I replied.

And we both agreed (as I am sure hundreds of other people would) that the fact the Canada Goose eggs were allowed to hatch this year has brought endless hours of joy, education and wonderment to families and visitors to Turtle Pond.

Even to the point, many of us are concerned about Binky, the gosling with the injured wings and how we may be able to help him if and when needed. -- PCA


Friday, July 9, 2010

For the Birds -- Observances and Commentary on Urban Wildlife

Pictures above: 1-- Joey -- Struggling to find a new niche and make it on his own. 2- The family of Canadian Geese at Turtle Pond. The goslings in the middle and both parents positioned protectively, Mama at top of photo, and Daddy at the bottom. 3-- Gracie and 4 of her 6 ducklings at Harlem Meer.)

When leaving Lasker pool last night after an evening swim, I walked around Harlem Meer to check on some of my favorite ducks.

Overhead, there was a great deal of commotion from what at first seemed like a frantic flock of smallish birds. But, the erratic way the creatures flew and the weird sounds they made, made me wonder if they were in fact, not bats?

That suspicion was confirmed by another park goer who said to me, "Watch your neck. Those are bats!"

"Really?" I said. "I have never seen a bat in my life!"

About the same time there was the discovery of bats flying overhead, I noticed a female mallard lying low in the grass and appearing like there was something wrong with her wings. Her wings were spread out like a fan, and for a moment, I wondered if they were broken? (Ducks don't normally rest with their wings spread out.)

But, after a few seconds, I realized this was, "Gracie," one of the Mama ducks at Harlem Meer who has six precious ducklings who were hatched almost a month ago. Her wings were spread out protectively covering her babies, presumably from the bats flying overhead!

I have never seen anything like this before and thought it to be quite amazing. (Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me to take pictures.)

After giving some treats to Gracie and her precious little ones and being assured by the young man I was speaking with that he would stay there for a while to make sure no harm came to the family, I moved on.

I saw "Joey," the white, Peking duck who tragically lost his two female siblings over the past month (most likely to human cruelty). Joey was with a small group of female mallards on a patch of grass, but when a group of young people walked by, he and the other ducks immediately jumped in the water and swam away.

I noticed Joey has become a great deal more skittish and wary of people than what he and his siblings used to be. I guess these birds have to learn from experience in order to survive.

I feel bad for Joey now. He and the two girls used to be the rulers of the Meer. It was as though they owned the lake with their constant presence, confidence and tendency to grab all the food treats that people threw out.

But, now Joey is trying to find another small group of ducks that will accept him into their midst. A few drakes have run Joey off from their female companions. But, over the past week or so, I've noticed Joey with this group of about three or four brown female mallards. But, while this flock of ducks doesn't run him off, they don't exactly welcome him either.

If food is tossed out, the female mallards eat first.

Poor Joey has gone from the top of the heap to the low bird on the totem pole.

But, hopefully Joey can find gradual acceptance from the other ducks he now shares the Meer with and really needs for purposes of companionship and protection. I am relieved (though in a sad way) that he has become much more wary and discerning of which people he can trust. That is really important for Joey's survival, especially being that white Peking ducks are purposely bred so that they cannot fly.

Other interesting observances over the past week or so -- the family of Canada Geese at Turtle Pond.

I have said it before and will say it again:

The devoted parental skills of Canadian Geese would put most human parents to shame.

Although the six goslings (hatched on Mother's Day) are now almost fully grown and difficult to distinguish from the Mother in terms of size and coloring, both parent Geese continually protect and guide them.

Canadian Geese communicate with all different types of sounds. Though most people are familiar with the "honks" of geese, particularly when taking to flight, the birds also communicate through soft, googling or cooing sounds (particularly the youngsters) and when threatened, hisses. (This is particularly true of the parent geese when dogs, a natural enemy, approach the family.)

But, what is particularly fascinating is the family resting and sleeping at night!

Mama and the six goslings crumble in a sleeping heap near the water, while the Daddy goose stands about 5 or 6 feet away from the family keeping constant vigil.

Only when things are extremely quiet and peaceful, will the Gander finally settle down on his haunches and rest.

But, I don't know that the Father goose actually ever sleeps at all.

Even when at rest, his head remains high, all senses of hearing, sight and smell forever alert to the slightest hint of threat to the family.

Though I haven't personally witnessed it, one suspects that Daddy goose would be able to immediately awaken and hasten the sleeping family into the water upon any threat -- or be willing to take on any adversary.

Utterly fascinating stuff.

It is mainly due to this "crash course" of observing and learning about urban wildlife over the past year or so, that I am personally so disturbed -- and angry with our city's persecution and killing of Canadian Geese. (Please read articles below)

Not only does the rounding up and gassing of these magnificent creatures signify horrific cruelty and stupidity but it also represents our government's abysmal failure to properly address an issue, as well as waste taxpayer money.

Rounding up and killing RESIDENT Canadian Geese (especially at a time they cannot fly due to molting and often have babies to raise) does NOTHING to protect the flying public from bird collisions with planes.

Analysis of feathers from the plane that landed in the Hudson river two years ago, indicated the geese that collided with the plane were MIGRATORY birds -- not those living within seven miles of the airports.

So, how does killing the resident birds around the air ports address the problem, other than telling the public, "See? We're doing something -- killing a whole lot of birds!"

Its the exact same thing as telling the public, "We're protecting you from terrorists by frisking little old ladies on planes!"

In both cases, the harassed and scapegoated are members of the same species causing the problems, but that's where all similarities end.

The ultimate solutions to bird collisions with planes is to first, build sturdier planes that cannot be brought down by an 8 lb bird and secondly, to better study and predict migratory bird flight patterns.

Terrorizing and gassing (when they are at their most vulnerable) thousands of innocent Canada geese who have absolutely NOTHING to do with this threat is both, barbaric and insane.

Please call 311 (the city's and Mayor's complaint line) to voice your protest. --PCA


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Gentle Spirits

(Pictures: "Daisy" --beautiful and social duck of Turtle Pond. Daisy catches in her mouth, peanuts tossed to her. Close-up of one of Clementine's seven ducklings. "Joey," the white Peking duck at Harlem Meer. Joey is alone now, having recently lost his two female siblings. "Matilda" and her two ducklings at Harlem Meer. "Clementine" and her seven babies at Harlem Meer.)

Today, I have posted and urge everyone to read fully, Karen Dawn's special tribute to (and quotes from) Senator Robert Byrd.

As noted in Karen's brilliant piece, Senator Byrd was perhaps our Congress's most passionate, eloquent and outspoken advocate for animals.

His loss will be felt greatly.

Because the text of Karen's important eulogy is lengthy, I will take a pass from writing today and merely share, on this holiday weekend, some favorite photos of the past week or so of our beloved birds in Central Park.

May the spirit and inspiration of Senator Byrd watch over and protect them. -- PCA


From Dawn Watch: "The Animals Lose Senator Byrd...."

Guest Editorial:

From: DawnWatch:

The animals lose Senator Robert Byrd, an eloquent voice on their behalf 6/28/10

Today the animals lost one of their most powerful and eloquent voices,Senator Robert Byrd.

Aged 92 and still in office when he died, Byrd was the longest serving member in the history of the US congress.

Byrd's history was dark -- in his twenties he had been a member of the KuKlux Klan. He later called that an albatross he had to bear, and he recentlycommented:"I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized athousand times... and I don't mind apologizing over and over again. I can'terase what happened."Those who have friended me on Facebook know that top of my list of favorite sayings is, "If you can't change your mind, are you sure you still haveone?"

Robert Byrd, thank heavens, changed his mind and opened his heart on the race issue. I read that he attributed that change to the tragic loss of a teenage grandson, and the realization, in the grief that followed, thatpeople of all races love their children. Byrd was also outspoken against the war in Iraq, against runaway governmentspending, and in favor of campaign finance reform, which I have often argued could be the most important legislative issue for the animals, as the strength of the farm and biomedical lobbies bars legislative progress time and again.

As far as I know he never did take a progressive stance on gay rights -- I wish he had lived long enough to shift on that one. And yes, I am sure he would have, as given enough time and opportunity any compassionate person connects the dots and realizes that compassion cannotbe reserved for a specific race, gender, sexual orientation or species.

Most pertinent to this list are Byrd's extraordinary speeches regarding cruelty to animals. I will share some lines below and urge you to go readthe full text, as the speeches are simply beautiful.

Before I go on I will note something that people who have been on DawnWatchfor a while already know -- that this list is not partisan, and that givenour country is almost equally divided I think the least kind and useful thing we could do for the animals is to try to claim their protection aseither a Democratic or Republican issue. (I discuss that issue in somedetail in Thanking the Monkey.)

It is true that Democrats tend to have better voting records on the mainstream animal issues that come up forvotes, but the exceptions are many and sometimes weighty. I think now of conservative Senator Robert Smith (R-NH), who is to date the only person to speak on the senate floor against vivisection, and of the work of Republican Senators John Ensign and Chris Shays on behalf of the animals, to name justa few.

But today we look at and remember Senator Robert Byrd.I will provide links to two speeches with which animal advocates should befamiliar.

After Michael Vick was indicted on dog fighting charges, Byrd gavea knock-out speech about "the scourge" that is dogfighting. And back in 2001 he addressed factory farming with passion, tenderness and his famous eloquence. In his July 2007 speech to the Senate Byrd said:"Dog fighting is a Federal crime, and yet animal welfare officials reportthat dog fighting is more popular today than ever. Shame, shame, shame...

"The depravity of dog fighting is a multimillion-dollar business thatinvolves training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill -- to kill -- and putting them in a ring to be killed or to kill for the entertainment and/or the profit of their owners and other spectators....

"Undercover investigators who have infiltrated the dog-fighting ring have found blood-soaked dogs with life-threatening injuries that are left to dieas soon as they are no longer able to compete. Undercover investigators havefound dogs with ripped ears, torn lips, genitals dangling from their bodies,eyes swollen shut, and faces riddled with punctures so severe that they were barely able to breathe. How inhuman, how inhuman, how sadistic....

"The training of these poor creatures -- weigh those words -- the training of these poor creatures to turn them into fighting machines is simply barbaric -- barbaric. Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley across this broad land --barbaric. May God help those poor souls who would be so cruel. Barbaric. Hear me. Barbaric.

Such practices as starvation of the poor animal to encourage malice, and beatings to build endurance are common. It involvesteaching the dog to maul by using smaller animals, such as cats or rabbitsor small dogs as training bait."

Those are just a few paragraphs from a stunning twenty-five minute speech,which ended in Byrd's usual passionate and evocative manner:

"I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruelcontempt. "I yield the floor."

You'll find the full text on line at:

In July 2001, while he was President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, Byrd gave a lengthy and beautiful speech arguing in favor of farm animal welfare measures. A brilliant politician, he opened by inviting us toconsider our relationship with dogs.

He referred to a story that you may remember from the news, of a woman whose bichon was tossed out on a freewayby an angry motorist. He called it "an act of sheer depravity to seize afluffy, furry, innocent little dog, and toss it onto a roadway, and mostcertainly to be crushed under tons of onrushing steel, iron, glass, andrubber, while its terrified owner, and perhaps other people in other vehicles, watched."

He told the Senate that his own dog, who he called "Billy Byrd," was a "keypart of our lives at the Byrd House." He then shared the summation of a lawyer prosecuting the shooting of a hunting dog back in 1869. I urge you to read that summation. It is part of the speech I link to below and it i slovely. He returned to the tale of the woman whose bichon was tossed onto thefreeway. Then he segued into the issue at hand:

"Mr. President, I am concerned that cruelty toward our faithful friend, thedog, may be reflective of an overall trend toward animal cruelty. Recentnews accounts have been saturated with accounts of such brutal behavior...."Our inhumane treatment of livestock is becoming widespread and more andmore barbaric. Six-hundred-pound hogs--they were pigs at one time--raised in2-foot-wide metal cages called gestation crates, in which the poor beastsare unable to turn around or lie down in natural positions, and this waythey live for months at a time."On profit-driven factory farms, veal calves are confined to dark woodencrates so small that they are prevented from lying down or scratching themselves. These creatures feel; they know pain. They suffer pain just as we humans suffer pain.

"Egg-laying hens are confined to battery cages. Unable to spread theirwings, they are reduced to nothing more than an egg-laying machine."

Last April, the Washington Post detailed the inhumane treatment oflivestock in our Nation's slaughterhouses. A 23-year-old Federal lawrequires that cattle and hogs to be slaughtered must first be stunned,thereby rendered insensitive to pain, but mounting evidence indicates thatthis is not always being done, that these animals are sometimes cut,skinned, and scalded while still able to feel pain."

A Texas beef company, with 22 citations for cruelty to animals, was found chopping the hooves off live cattle. In another Texas plant with about twodozen violations, Federal officials found nine live cattle dangling from anoverhead chain. Secret videos from an Iowa pork plant show hogs squealingand kicking as they are being lowered into the boiling water that willsoften their hides, soften the bristles on the hogs and make them easier toskin.... The law clearly requires that these poor creatures be stunned andrendered insensitive to pain before this process begins.

Federal law is being ignored. Animal cruelty abounds. It is sickening. It is infuriating.Barbaric treatment of helpless, defenseless creatures must not be toleratedeven if these animals are being raised for food--and even more so, more so.

"Byrd proposed a provision that would improve the USDA inspection system, and said:

"I realize that this provision will not stop all the animal life in theUnited States from being mistreated. It will not even stop all beef, cattle,hogs and other livestock from being tortured. But it can serve as an important step toward alleviating cruelty and unnecessary suffering by these creatures."

He ended his speech with powerful quotes from the Bible -- as was his way.

Regardless of the impact of the provision, we should not underestimate the impact, conscious or other, on the minds and hearts of the members of Congress who listened to the Senate's most powerful member argue passionately and persuasively that animals matter -- all animals, not just dogs.

Byrd's voice opened the door for future debate on all issues of animal captivity and suffering. He elevated their stance by deeming their issuesworthy of representation on the Senate floor.

Please do pour yourself a cup of tea or glass of wine, sit back, and read the poignant and powerful speech, which you'll find on line at Then, as all papers will tomorrow carry news of Senator Byrd's passing, in his honor, and for the animals, please send a letter to your local editor about this sweet and important part of his legacy.

You can take the opportunity to share a few thoughts on dog fighting or factory farming and slaughterhouses, issues about which he spoke so eloquently.

Almost allanimals raised for food in the US are raised under the conditions Byrd described -- that includes egg laying hens and dairy cows whose babies are carted off to those torturous veal crates. And those few raised under betterconditions do not escape the slaughterhouses.

So we also have here a perfect opportunity, in our letters about Senator Byrd's legacy, to advocate for much needed changes in the standard American diet -- more plant based eating. It is usually easy to find the correct address for a letter to your editoron the "contact us" tab on your paper's website, or with a quick call toyour paper. And many of the smaller papers publish close to 100% of lettersthey receive. So why not take this opportunity to put in some good words forthe animals, in honor of somebody who said so much, so beautifully, on theirbehalf? Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. Please also post animal friendly comments on websites covering SenatorByrd's death. The animals need your voice -- particularly having just lost his.

Yours and the animals',

Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues inthe media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets.You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)

Please go to to learn about Karen Dawn's book,"Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which was chosen
last year by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!"


Friday, July 2, 2010

"Making Whole" (Yea, right.)

(Picture Left: "Meeka." Loving, 2-year-old, Lab mix on Euth list for "Kennel Cough." Typical of most of the animals who end up dying in city shelters.)

Probably the toughest holiday of the entire year (at least for dogs and cats) is about to descend upon us and the kill lists from the NYC Animal Care and Control shelters certainly reflect that:

27 dogs and 45 kittens and cats just for today (Friday).

Again, I question how anyone in their right mind can claim NYC to be "on the road to no-kill" with these kinds of grim statistics. Last week there was a day when the shelters put down 56 kittens and cats in one day.

We have rescued two new dogs this week, one of whom was on yesterday's kill list. We were lucky to get a foster for one of the dogs, but the other one, "Meeka" is scheduled to go into boarding today. The reason I pulled Meeka is because she is indicated by former owners to be "good with cats" and she had stellar write-ups from several volunteers at the shelter.

Meeka is only two-years-old and was on the death list for Kennel Cough.

This of course is typical for most of the dogs and cats ending up on shelter kill lists.

Since almost all are guaranteed to get sick in the shelters after only a few days, "illness" thus serves as the rationalization for death -- even though the so-called "illness" is usually easily treatable with a short course of antibiotics.

The truth is these animals are being killed for lack of shelter space, lack of adopters AND population control. But, the shelters and the Mayor's Alliance will never admit that. It contradicts the Disneyworld message that NYC will be "no kill" ("for POPULATION CONTROL") by 2015."

What hogwash.

Still, neither the media, nor established animal organizations, nor the public challenges this message and so it continues unabated.

The "on the road to no kill" lie essentially removes all sense of responsibility from the public and virtually kills motivation for spaying and neutering animals. After all, if we are "on the road to no kill" and "will no longer be killing animals for population control," then why should people bother to neuter their cats and dogs? On the contrary, why not buy animals from breeders and pet shops? Why not breed the animals and make a few bucks by "selling" the puppies or kittens on Craig's List or other Internet sites?

As mentioned a few days ago, we rescued a lovely, healthy and affectionate kitten last week, ("Sasha"), had the kitten fully vetted and have advertised her on several adoption sites. I have yet to receive even one inquiry for Sasha. She will most likely end up being kept by her rescuer -- a woman who already has 20 rescued (and never publicly adopted) cats.

Among my emails today is one from Animal Control advising that the "construction" in the Manhattan facility will be undergoing a "new phase" starting this month (no completion date forecasted) which will involve putting in new floors.

Lord only knows how long this "new phase" will take as so far the renovations at the Manhattan shelter have taken almost two years. (I could swear at last week's board meeting they said that construction in the Manhattan shelter was scheduled to be finished by the end of last month! Of course, it was obvious that wasn't true or perhaps I was just hearing things.)

Anyway, this of course results in even a bigger "space crunch" then has already been suffered by the animals over the past two years.

But, who does this notice and alert go out to?

Rescue groups of course!

The same rescue groups and New Hope partners who are already bombarded with dozens of email "Alerts" every day from the shelters begging rescue for individual animals and the same rescues that are already totally saturated with animals.

Its certainly not a message that will be sent out to the media in a press release:

"We need the public to step up to the plate and help rescue and adopt these animals!"

Or, better yet:

"We need the public to act responsibly and neuter their pets!"

"We need the public to stop dumping its animals when people celebrate holidays or go on vacation!"

But, those are messages we will never hear from our Animal Control shelters, the media or our city government.

The "no kill (for population control) of animals by 2015" message is comparable to BP's and the government's message of "making whole the Gulf."

And if you believe these PR spin and lies from administrations and corporations, then there is a nice bridge in Brooklyn, we would like to sell you. -- PCA