We need help posting comments to the news articles about this issue, or we get drowned out by those clamoring to kill the geese. Those of us who care about saving geese in NYC and elsewhere have
our work cut out for us. When articles are posted relating to geese, all are encouraged to post comments in response, not only on GooseWatch NYC's Facebook page, but more importantly, on the article itself. Posting comments can be an effective way for our voices to be heard, especially when an article is
blatantly biased against the geese or our positions, or just includes misinformation. Posting comments has an important effect on the public viewing the story, as well as the reporter. The
more people that can help, the better. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to help or for more info.
The geese are repeatedly demonized in the press and have been for the last three years. Sometimes people express grief and frustration over what is happening to geese,
but they don't know what to do, who to protest to or what to say. We need to be able to effectively respond to the all the accusations, exaggerations, misinformation, comments and
questions. What follows henceforth are tips and suggestions for writing Letters to Editors and/or commentary to published articles.
1-- Keep commentary factual, concise and to the point
. Choose a particular focus and keep to the focal point. An excellent example of
this is a recently published letter
from the Times Union:
2--Be careful of unintended offense to particular groups or humans in general. Any comparisons of animal abuse and human atrocity offend large groups of
people and result in alienation. Terms like "murder," "holocaust" or "enslavement" are lightening rods for offense. Every atrocity is unique in its own terrible way and
has special place in history. It is usually not helpful to compare or mix them with issues we may be fighting for now.
3-- Avoid personal criticism of particular individuals or groups of people. Don't mix goose issue with other "left" or "right" winged causes and try to
avoid any subtle or outright insults to individuals or groups. It is common particularly on comment sites that others of different view will resort to
condescending name-calling and personal attack ("You're an idiot." "You don't know what you're talking about.") Try not to take the bait. If possible to reply with humor, irony
or fact, proceed. But, usually it is best not to be dragged into pointless, infantile jabs that detract from the issue and challenges at hand.
FACT: High flying, migratory Canada geese were not Flight 1549's only problem.
The "Miracle on the Hudson"
was caused when an airplane
with recent engine problems,
issues (engine stall) only two days before and almost had to emergency land. (In fact, news reports exhibit that the particular plane model - Airbus 320A - had tendency towards this
problem). DNA testing don by the Smithsonian Institute determined were not
from NYC but from migratory
from Labrador Canada. This incident would
not have been prevented even if every goose, and every bird had been killed in NYC.
FACT: To date, there have been 700 fatalities at JFK since 1960, the total
number caused by geese is exactly ZERO.
CBS recently ran a report called "Why
" - Pilots are scared and it's not because of collisions with wild animal. Total aircraft
caused by all
wildlife is 0.68%, a fraction compared to other cause.
0.68% (less than one percent
) of the hundreds of millions of flights occurring, result in a collision with wildlife of any kind. Only
a small percentage of collisions involve Canada geese, based on statistics from the FAA which indicate Canada geese to be extremely far down on the list of birds that
collide with airliners
(seagull and starlings are the birds most sucked in by jet engines). "For the period of 1990-2009, gulls were the most common bird species
involved in strikes reported to the FAA (18%) in which a bird species was identified. Other frequently-struck bird groups include doves/pigeons (15%), raptors (13%), and waterfowl (8%)."
- Chapter 1 page 14 - USDA APHIS Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
According to the Smithsonian Institute which tested feathers,
The two geese sadly sucked into the engine of Flight 1549 "Miracle on the Hudson" on January,
15, 2009 were migratory geese from Labrador, Canada
. The incident occurred at 2200 miles altitude and it is speculated the high flying migratory
birds were seeking open water area during frigid weather. Even had New York City killed ALL of its resident geese prior to the January
2009 incident, or all birds, or animals for that matter, that would not have
prevented the 'Miracle on the Hudson' from occurring.
Removing resident Canada geese now will not prevent another airliner from having to ditch in the
river following a bird strike. The fact is, we could kill every resident bird in New York City and that would not prevent a "bird strike" with any
one of millions of migratory birds that pass through New York City and the Atlantic Flyway every year.
In fact, even USDA and FAA officials concede that the risk can never be
eliminated. Non-lethal solutions can and should be applied to keep birds away from airports, but have never been effectively implemented. In fact, following the Miracle on the
Hudson, the National Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB) issued 33 specific recommendations
for improving safety such as increasing the volume of airplane engines, using visibility
strips, and other measures which could be taken by the FAA and airlines, but none of which dealt with wildlife hazard management, let alone indiscriminate slaughter of
The public has been provided little to no information regarding the status of the implementation of these recommendations. Killing animals is no guarantee for safety.
In fact, DNA testing has shown that the geese which intercepted with the "Miracle on the Hudson" As Ida Sanoff points out in her Op-Ed: The Bird Holocaust Is Coming To Jamaica Bay! | Sheepshead Bay News Blog
, other animals will fill the vacuum created which could potentially exacerbate the threats
and create other problems.
, a leading aviation magazine: "the consensus among wildlife experts appears to be
that a goose cull won't really do much to reduce the likelihood of bird strikes
, especially since there are dozens of species of birds that use the preserve. Don Riepe, who
serves as the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge guardian and also sits on JFK's bird hazard task force, told the Queens Chronicle
they already shoot
birds and have also eliminated habitat and employed other means to mitigate the bird threat. "But you are not going to reduce the threat to zero."
Leading bird strike experts, like Ken Paskar,
President of Friends of LaGuardia Airport, agree that culling geese is nothing more than a band aid approach to solving a very
complicated problem. This is a major public safety issue that demands a comprehensive solution that protects the airways above New York City.
Meanwhile, as the City kills geese in parks across the 5 boroughs, Bloomberg plans to build two marine waste transfer stations within very close proximity to
LaGuardia Airport, Capt. Sully Sullenberger and Friends of LaGuardia have been outspoken about the risks these facilities pose. These stations are already attracting gulls, which have a
significantly higher rate of collisions with aircraft than geese.
(For more info., see:
What should (if at all) be a last resort measure - killing animals - is being taken as a first step.
FACT: According to some experts, bird strikes are more common than what is actually reported. However, following the Miracle on the
Hudson incident, bird and plane collisions are reported far more now than in the past. This unfortunately gives journalists, politicians and the general public the impression that
bird strikes are dangerously "increasing" at an alarming rate. There are several reasons to expect more bird strikes:
-- The sheer increase in air traffic volume. (i.e. more planes, more strikes.)
-- Faster and quieter planes. (Birds unable to get out of the way fast enough or hear oncoming jet.)
-- Planes flying lower when arriving to or departing from NYC. ("Next Gen" technology.)
But, even if assuming that bird strikes are being "under reported" (which is particularly doubtful in NYC following famous Hudson incident) this would merely give further credence to
the argument that modern airliners are able to withstand virtually bird strikes without human casualty.
FACT: Not one person has lost his or her life on a commercial airliner due to a Canada goose.
FACT: Killing birds living in a desirable habitat will never ensure air travel safety.
"Environmentalists know the golden rule of ecosystems
one species is removed, another species will take over. So if the gulls and the geese are gone, there will be more resources available for whatever species moves in to occupy their niche. And
that species may be even more problematic." Ida Sandoff
, Natural Resources
Protective Association, a citywide non-profit dedicated to preserving marine and shoreline habitats and open space.
FACT: Resident Canada geese are easy targets and scapegoats due to their inability to fly during the six weeks of the molt.Canada geese are completely
defenseless -- and especially when unable to escape by flight. Canada geese have no fangs or claws with which to defend themselves and they cannot run. The hapless geese are therefore
extremely "easy prey" for low level USDA "Wildlife Services" employees to corral, cram into turkey crates and shove into trucks. Easy pickings, easy money and easy (but
completely ruthless and unjustifiable) slaughter.
FACT: A number of various alternatives are being implemented successfully at airports elsewhere, like Canada and Israel.
Technologies already exist (Merlin Avian Radar, for one) and more need to be developed that can predict and avoid possible bird
strikes. But, first the will and the investment needs to be there. Recently, thousands of aerospace engineers
and scientists lost jobs due to the disbanding of the space shuttle program. Great minds could be put to noble deeds in the researching and designs of new technologies that could
potentially avert bird strikes all together. Nothing is impossible in this technically advanced age.
FACT: The American Veterinary Medical Association condones applying the term “euthanasia” to these and other slaughters, a term that is understood to refer to gentle
assisted death in circumstances of terminal injury or illness, and it's a categorization with which many biologists and veterinarians disagree should be applied to killing healthy animals.
Euthanasia means literally a “good death” or “mercy killing," nothing about the slaughters could be
considered “good” or “merciful.” We continued to see media reports use the term this summer -- referring to the roundup and slaughter of geese as euthanasia is disingenuous and designed to quell
outrage and prevent the public understanding the true horror the geese endure. As John Hynes, DVM. Dr. Hynes, a USDA Accredited Veterinarian in New York and New Jersey,
has said "carbon dioxide asphyxiation used by the USDA is
an especially cruel process that slowly strangles geese as they struggle to breathe and compete for oxygen."
FACT: The notion of feeding the geese carcasses to food banks is pure whitewashing
. Mary Brosnahan, then Executive Director of the NYC Coalition for the Homeless, said
: "The Coalition objects, in the strongest possible terms, to the plans by officials to slaughter hundreds of New York City's Canada
geese, and to the use of homeless New Yorkers to achieve that end. The plan to feed homeless people the potentially tainted carcasses of these birds through a local soup kitchen or food bank sets
a dangerous double standard in which poor men, women and children will eat unregulated and insufficiently inspected flesh." According to USDA documents
, last year Wildlife Services
agents removed 575 geese from New York City parks but only delivered 424 pounds of
goose meat, less than one pound per goose. It’s unconfirmed whether the goose meat from last summer's cull was ever actually fed to people.