Occasionally, airplanes collide with animals or other flying debris. Sometimes planes hit birds. Not very often, but it does happen. While 50% of all fatalities involving commercial aircraft worldwide since the 1950s can be attributed to pilot error, and 22% to mechanical failure, less than one percent can be attributed to collisions with wildlife. In other words, flights are over 100 times more likely to crash and cause fatalities for reasons other than "wildlife strikes." In fact, since 1990, among tens of millions of takeoffs and landings, there have only been 61 strikes recorded at JFK International and LaGuardia airports involving Canada geese, and none besides the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight sustained more than minimal damage.
By spreading out across the city we were able to reach more people, and our volunteers met people in all five boroughs who were outraged to learn about the killing and willing to help. We recieved phone calls from many different people who found our number, most were interested in helping, some just wanted to know what was going on. One young man in particular was memorable because he spent the first minute and a half of the call cursing us out without even taking a break, thinking we were the USDA. In the end, we made critical contacts in several different parks across the city that allowed us to keep close contact on the geese we sought to protect.
Over the months of May, June, and especially July, we were able to get our name out, and gathered over 500 phone numbers for people who agreed to be called in the event of a roundup. We also collected 500 new email addresses for our mailing list and nearly 1,000 fans to the new Facebook page. Our efforts were covered in mostly positive ways by a number of media outlets, some were local NYC neighborhood papers like the Brooklyn Paper, Queens Times Ledger, and AFP. We grabbed further headlines by holding a large protest outside Mayor Bloomberg's mansion when we learned that over 200 geese had already been killed in parks throughout the city, and GooseWatch founder was interviewed with HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell.
However, we overlooked one big park - Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. And we should have known there was a problem when Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced her support for a roundup and slaughter of the geese there, describing the threat as imminent. We were at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge the first day goslings were found and in fact knew there was a large population of geese and more families expected. While no roundup had ever been allowed at the refuge we were concerned that a powerful senator could have her way. Unfortunately, staking out the refuge was also a logistical nightmare - none of our members had a car to get there, and in any case we calculated that emergency distress calls would be unlikely to have an impact since it was so far removed from a residential neighborhood, and since we were unsure whether or not a roundup would occur there, ultimately we decided against allocating our resources to the refuge. However, we protested the announcement by Sen. Gillibrand, and soon after, Karopkin was granted a meeting with her office.
Canada geese are part of New York City. Killing New York City’s Canada geese is not a solution to dangers posed by aircraft collisions with animals; in actuality offers nothing to resolve and potentially increases the threats to air travel caused by collisions with migrating birds (and other wildlife). Without modifying the desirable habitats they occupy, killing geese only encourages new birds to move in - as we have seen - the USDA wipes out geese at the same sites year after year.