New York State officials have determined that a population of about 170,000 Canada geese will be
exterminated in order to provide better safety for airplane passengers
and reduce a purportedly enormous population of the fowl. Isolde Raftery writes at The New York Times that, according to a USDA source, the move is "a result of five months of meetings between
February and June 2009, after the [goose-induced] crash of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River."
Not all pundits are greeting the announcement with open arms (neither are geese, by the way), while others are just baffled by the news.
That's a Lot of Geese, points out Mike Vilensky at New York Magazine. While the writer notes that the fowl have been "attacking" airplanes, he's still shocked by the enormous number slated for extermination. "That is goose genocide! Hopefully a few of these geese have their special flight feathers strapped on again and survive, without holding it against humans for systematically gassing and killing their families, so that we can someday improve the now out-of-control goose-human relations." Meanwhile, he calls the "reappearance" of geese in Prospect Park--singled out for a culling several weeks ago--"inspiring." Writes Vilensky: "More than 28 geese have now been spotted standing in solidarity in Brooklyn, symbols of the geese population's incorrigible will to survive!"
Good Riddance, writes a giddy Dan Collins at The Huffington Post, who "is on the side of the exterminators." While animal-rights activists may be angry, "[a]irplane safety is the most persuasive argument for goose removal, but there are plenty of others. The resident geese are junk animals. There are way too many of them. While there was a time long ago when they were in danger of extinction, now they're all over the place. They live a long time, reproduce like crazy and--most important--they defecate all over the place."
How to Kill a New York Goose The great goose population trimming has animal rights groups up in arms, notices Time writer Bryan Walsh. The move also has some interesting logistical hurdles. "Government wildlife agencies have a favored method for culling the population of birds like Canada geese: shooting them. But that's not really possible in New York City, which has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation--and even if hunting with shotguns were allowed, the chance of a person getting caught in the crossfire in such a densely populated region is all too likely." Instead, officials are rounding them up and gassing them.
Why? wonders Change.org writer Stephanie Feldstein. "The official reason is 'public safety.' Canada geese are most often blamed for airplane bird strikes, including the one that landed Captain Sully's Flight 1549 in the Hudson River last January. Of course, they're not the only flying animals to have run-ins with jets, but since they're larger than most others, they tend to do the most damage." She seems less than enchanted with the decision, observing that "the USDA, who should be protecting the birds, are the ones called in to do the dirty work."