Thursday, December 13, 2012

In Midst of USDA, Wildlife Services Goose Slaughters, One Small Victory

After weeks of not seeing any Canada geese at Harlem Mere, a dozen of them suddenly showed up last night.  They came (almost in defiance of latest Wildlife Services "goose removal report") onto the embankment and regarded me curiously. My heart swelled.

Small wonder I so love these seemingly clairvoyant and ever resilient birds..... 

Although supposed to be readily available public information, a colleague recently used Freedom of Information Request to obtain a copy of the latest Wildlife Services Goose Removal Report:

The report does not cover the 751 geese rounded up from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (at the demand of a ruthless Senator Kirsten Gillibrand) nor the nearly 500 geese rounded up and sent to slaughter from Westchester.

Wildlife Services was apparently very busy this past summer in New York.  They stalked, harassed and ultimately rounded up more than 1500 defenseless geese (that we know of) to send to some mysterious upstate slaughterhouse.

Though comparatively short and only covering the 290 geese rounded up from New York City parks and golf courses, there is noteworthy information contained in the latest report.

The most troubling is the recommendation by USDA that NYC goose roundups not only be continued, but in fact, expanded to cover locations and times of the year when the geese are not molting and flightless.

The supposed rationale for expanded slaughters is that the geese only molt in specific and "safe" locations.

Apparently, WS desires a kind of free-for-all on goose slaughters. Any time of the year and any location.

It is of course, difficult to capture geese who can fly.

But, not for Wildlife Services who have at their disposal, rocket nets and drugs to stupefy and disorient geese who would otherwise fly and escape. Drugs that if placed on food to "bait" geese will likely impact and possibly even kill other wildlife.

This information is disturbing for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the uncertainty for bird and wildlife observers who regularly survey and count birds in our parks.

When flocks of Canada geese suddenly vanish, can we attribute this to natural circumstance or will we have to consider the possibility of unnatural USDA goose roundups?

Moreover, potential goose roundups conducted during times the geese can fly would likely victimize migrating Canada geese as well as so-called, "resident" geese.  Since we are actually talking the same species of bird, there is no way to tell by looking, the "difference" between a migrating Canada goose and a so-called, "resident" goose.

Although the report states that USDA captures "ten or more geese" at a location within five miles of an airport, actual data shows they rounded up "6" geese from Clearview Park and Golf Course on June 25th of this year. 

In the past when questioned on low number goose roundups, USDA has offered the explanation that fewer geese were at the location when rounded up than when first observed.  However, in this case, it is the same number of geese both surveyed and rounded up.

Since calls to USDA to question this have so far not been responded to, it is impossible to say this time what the possible excuse is for rounding up ONE family of 6 Canada geese for slaughter from a location.  --Six geese who did not pose any kind of "threat" to anything.

For a number of years, (including now) the USDA has been citing "between 20,000 and 25,000" Canada geese in the NYC metropolitan area.

And yet WS has rounded up and either sent for gassing or slaughter more than 4,000 NYC geese in just the past few

USDA claims their killing program to be "effective" in managing and lowering Canada goose numbers, but their own stats don't show evidence of that -- unless that "20,000 -25,000" figure is just an inflated smoke screen to convince the public, politicians and media of the "need" for USDA goose extermination services. 

Furthermore, although the USDA portrays the goose slaughters as a kind of "charitable" act by claiming the goose meat is distributed to "food banks" their own stats show that out of 290 geese slaughtered, only 258 lbs of so-called goose meat was dumped off on food charities.  --

That is less than one pound of meat per ten pound goose.  

USDA further fails to indicate whether these geese (who regularly consume grass sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers and insecticides) were tested in any way for PCB's, lead, mercury and other contaminates.  "Eat at your own risk" is the supposed watch word here, though its unclear if goose meat packaging actually says that.

To sum up, though only 8 pages long, the latest Goose Removal Report from USDA both, raises important questions and sets off concerning alarms (especially the call for expanded goose roundups other times of the year).

Indeed, the only "positive" note in all this carnage is that this year, USDA did not even survey Central Park (while "surveying" 78 other park locations around the city, including Prospect Park in Brooklyn -- the site of the infamous 2010 massacre of 372 geese).

USDA apparently and hopefully got the message that their Wildlife (extermination) Services are not welcomed in Central Park.

And last night, more than a dozen Canada geese flew into Harlem Mere in Central Park to celebrate a small kind of victory.   -- PCA


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The migratory geese have landed!!Sure does warm my soul to see pictures of "your" geese. Hope they get out of Dodge before the next round of USDA cullings.

what are we going to do about killings in 2013?It is extremely disturbing that last summer they started killings after the molting season I've lost touch with GooseWatch NY - couldn't get on their new site. So, I sure do appreciate your nblog.Thanks!! Mary Castrovilla