Tribute to the Prospect Park Geese

One of my favorite calming, life affirming activities is visiting a certain, shaded spot on the edge of the lake in Prospect Park and watching the birds swim to and fro: ducks, swans, and, until recently, geese.  On Thursday morning, July 8, 2010, biologists working with the federal Department of Agriculture rounded up nearly 400 Canada geese, the park’s entire population, and gassed them to death. The mass killing was reportedly part of an effort to limit the geese population withing a seven mile radius of major airports, in light of the emergency landing of a US Airways flight in the Hudson river in January, 2009.  At 6.5 miles from La Guardia and JFK, Prospect Park’s population was a target.  Never mind that the goose who collided with flight 1549 was in transit, not a local resident, highlighting the futility of clumsy attempts to control the chaos of nature.  While Prospect Park’s geese were a dubious threat to “aviation and passenger and property safety” [emphasis mine], a multitude of other birds still fly high.

I went to my favorite bird watching spot Thursday afternoon, and chatted with other park-goers about the strange lack of geese on the lake that day.  I enjoyed feeding the lone duck and swan that swam about, never entertaining the thought that the geese were gone for good.  When I read about what had happened, I thought the news story was a prank.  I couldn’t imagine the entire population had been exterminated in one fell, foul swoop.  It was too scary and sad.

From The Times:

“Elsewhere in the country, nuisance wildlife birds are usually chased away by border collies or firecrackers. But in New York, Ms. Bannerman said, there is no relocation program for the geese, and they must be euthanized.”

I guess as Bannerman cites a statistic that “In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold” there was suddenly No Time To Waste after all these decades of growth.  Covert ops were obvs in order.  I mean, there was no relocation program already in existence.  Doesn’t mass goose murder seem more efficient than, Idk, starting one? Starting programs is hard and takes money.  I’m sure there are no animal welfare/conservation groups that could have been of any help.

I miss the geese.  I didn’t know what to do with my anger and sadness, so I made a video with some footage I’d shot in my favorite place about a year ago.  Tomorrow I’ll call the Agriculture Department.  No one is taking calls there, now.