Saturday, June 30, 2012
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Thursday, June 28, 2012
Planned use of geese as food draws protest
Originally published: June 27, 2012 9:29 PM
Updated: June 27, 2012 10:02 PM
By MARIA ALVAREZ. Special to Newsday
About 50 people carrying signs across from Mayor Michael Bloomberg's townhouse yesterday evening protested plans to round up the city's wild geese and turn them into hamburgers for the homeless.
The protest near the mayor's home at 79th Street and Madison Avenue not far from Central Park was organized by the Friends of Animals and Goose Watch NYC organizations.
"The mayor doesn't want to hear from the animal-rights people," said Edita Birnkrant, the New York director of Friends of Animals and a protest organizer. She said she tried to meet with the mayor to work out a solution, but his office declined.
Bloomberg's office said Wednesday the mayor had no response to the protesters.
The U.S. Wildlife Service, with the city Department of Environmental Protection's and the Port Authority's cooperation, plans to remove about 400 Canada geese from 14 city parks within 7 miles of Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports.
This is the fourth year of the removal program.
It's a response to the 2009 downing of an airliner into the Hudson River after geese were sucked into its engines and shut them down.
Birnkrant said killing the local birds won't protect aircraft and that her members are prepared to go to the 14 parks involved during the roundups to interrupt the efforts by blowing whistles to disperse the birds before they are corralled.
She said she's tried to meet with Bloomberg to help find alternatives, such as growing the grass longer near the airports so the birds can't nest.
To catch the geese, the city says, biologists surround the birds, either on land or in the water, and corral them into a 4-foot-high plastic shelter.
Once corralled, the live birds are shipped to a meat-processing plant, where their breast meat is ground like hamburger and donated to food pantries.
This year, the meat will be donated to a regional food bank for distribution to local food pantries.
Goose Watch NYC questions whether the meat is safe to eat because the birds live in parks treated with pesticides.
Protester Patty Adjamine, 65, who lives near Central Park, wants the government to leave the birds alone. She said she recently counted only 35 Canada geese in Central Park. "If they go back in, they're going to kill them all, leaving us with nothing. It's an extermination."
As far as articles go, the above is neither the worst nor the best.
Newsday was only one of two major news organizations to show up and for that we have to be grateful. (The other was the NY Post, but so far we don't see an article.)
The headline of this piece is disturbing because it makes it appear that we (the protesters) would rather see hungry people starve than kill a goose.
That, of course is neither the issue nor the truth.
When interviewed by the reporter, I was asked nothing about the plan to "donate goose burgers" to "regional food banks."
Had the question been raised at all, I would have informed the reporter that the 424 lbs of goose meat (from 575 geese) supposedly "donated" last year represented less than one pound per goose.
Geese typically weigh more than ten pounds. The 424 lbs was thus less than 10% per bird.
For that the geese were transported almost 4 hours away to Pennsylvania, slaughtered, processed and (supposedly) tested.
Perhaps that explains the tremendously high taxpayer costs to round up and kill the 575 geese last year which nearly reached $100,000.
This was not only a cruel and unjustifiable action against the geese, but a total rip off of the taxpayers for what was essentially a public relations ploy.
We could have sent vats of caviar to the Pennsylvania food banks for less money than what it cost to round up and subject these pitiful geese to a hell journey to Pennsylvania for ultimately a pitifully small "donation" to food banks.
Moreover, considering that geese are sponges for their environments and live on a diet of pesticide, insecticide and chemically treated grass, one has to question the potential health risks to those eating what could be a tainted product.
So yes, any of us could have told these things to the reporter -- had we been asked the actual question.
But, it apparently was easier to make it appear that we are simply against donations to food banks and put the lives of geese before those of humans.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is that even if one cared nothing for geese, one should still be outraged about the waste of tax dollars for cruel and shameful publicity stunts. That almost $100,000 could have been used to provide both quantity and quality to food banks.
Instead it was used for mayhem and quite literally "dumping" slaughtered wildlife remains from city parks on an unsuspecting and most likely, poorly insured, downtrodden people.
Shameful and disgusting in more ways than what directly relates to the scapegoated and massacred geese. It is also shameful and disgusting in terms of the consequences to both taxpayers and the poor alike.
Another thing that bothered me personally about this article was that I informed the reporter that had we killed every resident goose in NY State, it would not have prevented flight 1549 from colliding with two MIGRATORY geese from Labrador, Canada and landing in the Hudson on that fateful day in January 2009.
I even told her the source of that information which is the Smithsonian Institute that tested the feathers in the engine.
Unfortunately, such vital and relative information NEVER makes it in to news reports no matter how many times we point it out.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of "positives" from this article -- if indeed, we dare use the word here.
First, it is positive that Bloomberg "had no comment" to the protest.
That is better than his asinine statements two years ago when, referring to goose gassing the Mayor said, "The geese go to sleep and have nice dreams" among other equally inaccurate and insensitive remarks. Sometimes its better to just shut one's mouth than sputter and advertise ignorance and crassness. Perhaps the mayor has learned something over the past two years.
The other positive is that we at least got the bottom line in the article.
Yes, there will virtually be nothing left (at least in terms of geese in our parks) when the proposed slaughter goes through. It is thus and quite accurately, an "extermination."
(Already there are very few if any geese at all in many NYC parks and that is before the proposed roundups and killings.)
While perhaps not fair of me to single out Central Park (where up to now, we have no evidence of past goose roundups), the fact is, it is part of the NYC Parks and Recreation Department and that is one of the "cooperative" agencies involved in the contract with USDA for goose slaughter. As said, Central Park is not immune to a potential goose roundup and that is why I felt special need to mention the roughly 35 geese there in hopes of spotlighting attention on and protecting them.
But, I am not sure how we ultimately protect the geese from our city parks in the end from these mindless and ruthless executions.
50 protesters showing up to a rally to defend the geese is not enough in a city of 8 million people to either draw significant media attention or more importantly, attention from the forces responsible for these archaic and brutal decisions.
If even one tenth of the people I have spoken to over the past few years who indicated their love of the geese and wish to protect them had attended yesterday's rally, it would have made huge impact and resulted in wide and meaningful media coverage.
But, "activism" per se is simply not in vogue these days. It seems most people are distracted with other things, particularly, work, electronic gadgets, or focus on personal health, fitness or families.
That is all well and good. But, we also need people willing to speak out against social injustices and work towards creating a better and more peaceful world.
Nevertheless, there were subtle and positive changes from yesterday's rally. Significant of these is that of the people passing by, many or even most were very supportive of the action. Many seemed aware, smiled, took fliers and in at least one case, joined the protesters.
A bus driver passing by honked the horn and gave an enthusiastic "thumbs up" from within the crowded bus.
(Below are 15 photos from the actual rally:
Though our message is getting out painfully slowly, it does seem to be getting out, little by little.
The question is, can it get out quickly enough to save any geese from this year's planned executions or stop the slaughters all together in coming years?
One would hate to think that the goose slaughters will only end when there are finally no more geese left to kill.
And it is that which is our greatest fear and what we are struggling so hard to prevent. -- PCA