NYCLASS Mayoral Forum

The 2013 Mayoral Forum on Animal Rights hosted by NYCLASS  included five candidates, and was attended by more than 200 animal advocates. Many important issues affecting animals in New York City were discussed, including the candidates’ views on the killing of NYC's Canada geese. The event was covered by the NY TimesDaily News, and other media outlets.

Skip ahead if you want to 53:36 for the question about the geese, and the candidate's answers are transcribed below. Decide for yourself which candidate gave the best answers.


Tom Allon: In the summer of 2010, residents of Brooklyn were shocked to find that Prospect Park's entire population of Canadian geese was killed by the USDA, as part of a Citywide program introduced by Mayor Bloomberg. Aviation and biological experts contend these methods are not merely inhumane but unnecessary, biologically, and fiscally ineffective. As mayor, would you work with animal protection organizations to implement proven non-lethal methods to resolve conflicts with Canadian geese? 


Bill DeBlasio: The answer is I don't think there was ever an effort to work with other approaches that would have been more humane, to work with experts who could have shown a better approach, and I'm committed to not just rushing in and killing animals when there might be a better way. Look, we know around the airports, and I don't want to placate, we have a real challenge around the airports when it comes to geese, and that's a very, very serious matter in terms of the safety of aviation. But in the case of Prospect Park it wasn't that, and there were better approaches that weren't tried, and we have to get every approach on the table and work with the experts.


John Liu: I certainly pledge to work with the animal care experts in terms of how to control the population of Canadian geese, I think, I recall, obviously, you had a near horrific disaster in the Hudson River and a plane crash was averted due to the skills of Sully, but nonetheless, that raised questions about how safe the airports and approaches to and from airports are. Look, I'm not a politician by trade or experience, I'm a mathematical physics major, you know what the probability is of a flock of geese being in the flight path of an airplane? I mean, it is almost infinitesimal. Is there any chance that it could happen? Yes. But, we gotta figure out what the flight paths are, there are other strategies to control the population of these kinds of birds, and in fact I don't recall all of them, which is why I need to work more closely with the animal care experts, but I have read suggestions about how you curtail where and when these geese are living and migrating to and from, and to try to keep them out of the flight paths of the planes. The closer to the airport, obviously, statistically the more significant the probability is of an airplane flying into a flock of geese, but as you get even just a little further away from the airport it becomes almost like two planes crashing in mid-air, and that's something that's not going to happen. The other thing, I think with modern day technology, there are much more refined ways of seeing what's in the air, and therefore avoiding some kind of collision between a plane and a goose, so that's something that should explored also. 


Bill Thompson: We have to approach this in a very differentiated way, there isn't a one size fits all. So we look at Prospect Park, and it's a very different area than the airports. I think the first thing we have to do, we have to use safety as our foundation and as the prime thing we need to focus on. But, there are other ways, working with individuals, particularly if you look at Prospect Park, and I have to admit - I was stunned that that was the result, that that's what the City of New York working with USDA decided to do - in Prospect Park, it didn't seem to make any sense. We obviously want to make sure that the airports are safe, and that we make sure that safety, again, is the number one issue. But, working with advocates, working with some of the newer technologies, we should be able to come up with additional ideas, that we don't have to just go out as they did in Prospect Park and wind up killing the Canadian geese population in the City of New York. We should be able to work in a very differentiated way, safety being the first issue, but there are a lot of good ideas out there - we need to explore those ideas.


Sal Albanese: Safety is the first issue but I think we should explore other alternatives before we go in and kill a flock a geese in Prospect Park, so I would be willing to work with experts, animal control people to find out if there are any other options besides the mass eradication of the geese in Prospect Park. As John pointed out, there's probably a more technologically smart way of addressing this rather than what was done in Brooklyn.


John Catsimatidis: I believe there should be an alternative method, I think possibly instead of shooting them or killing them, we should be putting them to sleep and try to move them some place. Well, you know, if you're just going to kill them and new geese are going to fly in, what are you gonna do kill the new geese too? Let's be smart about this. In addition, I didn't hear anything about what my opponent wanted to do, which is killing all the deer in Staten Island [Joe Lhota].  


Christine Quinn declined to attend.


We ask our members who they thought gave the best response: