Friday, September 16, 2011

"Safety Measures" or Irrational Intrusion?

Following up on yesterday's blog posting regarding the Department of Environmental Protection press release of June 25th, 2011, one is hard pressed to figure out how an aggressive campaign of "goose removals" (and killings of more than 3,000 geese over the past three years) around the city would not result in an overall decrease in the goose population in the New York Metropolitan area.
The New York City Metropolitan area however takes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as Westchester and Rockland counties.
So, if one greatly stretches the imagination it is possible to speculate that while thousands of geese were being killed within seven miles of NYC airports, geese were breeding by the thousands in the outlying Long Island and suburban areas.
However, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense, nor jive with the realities of the day.
While it is quite apparent that Canada geese are a highly adaptable species of bird and have been known to "compensate" for predations by breeding more, its hard to imagine any community tolerating large numbers of geese reproducing on lakefront properties -- especially in these days of an announced "war on geese" occurring all over.
Goose management efforts, such as egg addling and goose harassment are widely practiced and happening in areas all around the country, including the suburban areas of New York.
So, while it is difficult to actually "prove" that the DEC ongoing estimate of "20,000 -25,000" geese in the NYC metro area to be highly inflated, the fact remains it is very questionable and suspect under the current circumstances.  
What is truly needed is a scientific and independent study of goose numbers in the NYC Metro area.  According to a spokesperson for the NYC Audubon Society a grant request for that was actually proposed to the Port Authority, but to date, it has not been granted.
Other claims in the DEP document raise questions:
For example, when one talks about a "flock of birds" one is usually referring to more than two.
However, it was only two geese that flight 1549 collided with on January 15, 2009. 
Tests later conducted on the remains of the two geese indicated they were migratory geese from Labrador, Canada, apparently flying at an altitude of 3,200 feet.  
The fact is, that even had New York killed EVERY goose in the entire Metropolitan area (or even the state) it would not have prevented that near-catastrophe of the plane landing in the Hudson that cold January day!
Additionally, the particular airliner had suffered "engine stall" on a previous flight and almost had to emergency land:
Normally, when planes collide with birds, they don't end up in rivers. Almost always, the airliners rather return to airports. One cannot rule out mechanical deficiencies for largely contributing to the ill fated flight that day landing in a river.
And yet that one incident which in fact, had nothing to do with "resident" Canada geese living in or around city parks has been used to justify a seemingly never-ending slaughter and/or harassment of the local birds on city properties and elsewhere.
Of course the DEP also sites other goose/plane collisions as reason for the massacres.
"82" to be exact over an 11-year period from 1999 -2010, none of which resulted in human casualty.
Eighty-two seems to be an infinitely low number when one considers that there were many millions of flights going in and out of NYC airports during that period of time.
How many people were actually killed by falling tree branches during that period of time?  Why haven't we declared a "war on trees" for public safety reasons?
Is it because people care more about trees than the birds who actually live near trees?
I don't personally know the answers to these questions.  I do question however, why they have apparently never been asked by the major media.
One of course, understand the needs for public safety, but as noted, even had we killed every goose in NY prior to Janurary 15th, 2009, it would not have prevented the incident now being used to justify an all out war on a local species.
When do "safety measures" simply become wasteful, obsessive, irrational and meaningless vehicles for harassment, intrusion and in this case, possible eradication of a species?
Recently, the government reviewed and finally changed its ridiculous policy of forcing small children to remove shoes and undergo "pat downs" at airports. (This should also be implemented for senior citizens.)
Well, its past time the government also reviewed and changed its equally ludicrous (and in this case) destructive policies of killing countless thousands of Canada geese for the infinitely few times that a plane and goose collision might occur.  It simply is not possible to kill billions of birds over 4 Lbs (including eagles, pelicans, swans, egrets, etc, etc., etc.) to guarantee "airline safety."
If the FAA and other agencies were really serious about guaranteeing airline safety, they would go back to four engine planes, modernize the airline fleets and take measures to prevent pilot and air traffic controller fatigue and error.
We cannot simply continue to blame all of our own deficiencies and/or failings on Canada geese.
Indeed, these birds have seemingly become the "scapegoat" for almost everything gone wrong in our society.
If we could blame the economic crisis on Canada geese, we surely would. -- PCA

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