FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10, 2012
Contact: David Karopkin (567) 694-6673, firstname.lastname@example.org
USDA Slaughters 751 Canada Geese from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Sen. Gillibrand Takes Credit
Aviation Experts, Biologists and Ecologists Contend Mass Extermination is Ineffective, Counter-Productive Measure in Addressing Human Safety Concerns
Canada Geese Trucked in High Heat for Over Two Hours, Delivered to Slaughter Facility in Dutchess County, NY, Coalition for the Homeless Opposes Use of Canada Goose Meat to Feed Needy New Yorkers
As reported on the cover of this morning’s Metro NY, yesterday morning USDA agents descended on Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to capture, remove, and slaughter 751 Canada geese (photos available), under the guise of air safety concerns, according to a press release issued by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and confirmed by National Park Services officials. Aviation experts, biologists and Ecologists agree that yesterday’s mass extermination was a scientifically unsound, ineffective, counter-productive and cruel action. The slaughter was embraced for political and financial reasons, ignoring proven, long term solutions which would better address air safety concerns and protect the public.
“Sen. Gillibrand has taken responsibility for the roundup and mass slaughter of innocent animals at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Canada geese which harmed no one and brought pleasure to many. The New York City Canada goose operations have been carried out without public approval or transparency. The justifications given by the USDA and Sen. Gillibrand, that New York City’s geese pose a threat to aircraft, have been widely discredited by aviation experts. Assurances that USDA goose slaughters are conducted humanely have been contested by animal advocacy organizations nationwide. With this decision, Sen. Gillibrand has ignored our plea to reconsider plans for a mass slaughter, and turned a blind eye toward New Yorkers who love animals and care about the preservation of wildlife,” said David Karopkin, Founder and Director of GooseWatch NYC.
Long term solutions must be implemented in order to prevent aircraft collisions with wildlife, annual exterminations will not address the underlying concerns. AVWeb, a leading aviation magazine issued the following statement: “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.”
Furthermore, if the 751 geese removed from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge indeed posed a threat to aircraft, such concerns may have been exacerbated by this morning’s action. “Environmentalists know the golden rule of ecosystems: if one species is removed, another species will take over,” said ecologist Ida Sanoff, of Natural Resources Protective Association. “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.”
“Behaviorists and biologists have been studying culling programs designed to deter aircraft bird strikes involving the Layson Albatross (Gooney Bird) since WWII in the Pacific (Wake, Guam, Midway islands). The findings are clear and unequivocal. Bird density actually increases following culling programs, as other birds move into a culled bird’s territory,” said Environmental Medicine & Pathobiology expert Barry Burns, PhD., Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the “Bloomberg School of Public Health”). Dr. Burns added that “biologists recognize that the breeding population of Canada Geese has been under severe stress from hunting, loss of forage, reduced winter refuge areas, illness and climate change. The New York culling programs are poorly conceived and promoted by political forces with essentially no intellectual or even common sense understanding of the problem. Even now, NYC is killing thousands of birds and air strikes have gone up. The objective should not be to eliminate species which become inconvenient when mankind encroaches on their territory.”
Spokesperson for Sen. Gillibrand Glen Caplan’s claim that the geese rounded up yesterday morning were “euthanized” — a term that is understood to refer to gentle assisted death in circumstances of terminal injury or illness — is both disingenuous and dishonest, and a categorization with which many biologists and veterinarians disagree. “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,” said John G. Hynes, DVM, USDA Accredited Veterinarian, NY & NJ.
Although geese slaughtered by USDA agents in New York City parks during the 2009 and 2010 summers were gassed and dumped in a landfill, in 2011 the geese were delivered to Potteiger Meats, a commercial processing facility more than three hours away in New Kingston, PA. The New York Times recently reported that this summer USDA agents have already “corralled and hauled away 255 geese at 12 parks, with a goal of capturing 400 geese at 14 parks.” In response, members of GooseWatch NYC joined in protest at Mayor Bloomberg’s Manhattan townhouse. “The city is trying to spin the killing of New York City’s Canada geese as being a charitable act because their carcasses will be donated to food banks instead of dumped in landfills, under the guise of “doing everything possible to help those in need,” said Karopkin. The Canada geese which were captured yesterday were trucked in high heat over two hours away to an “upstate poultry plant” in Dutchess County, NY according to National Park Services.
Mary E. Brosnahan, Executive Director for Coalition for the Homeless, agreed, saying, “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.”
New York City’s Canada goose slaughters have been condemned by several national animal advocacy organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, Friends of Animals, and In Defense of Animals.
Patrick Kwan, New York state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said “This indiscriminate slaughter is inhumane, ineffective and not supported by science. It is the wrong way to address the goose population, especially when more humane and scientific solutions exist and have been successfully implemented.”
“Senator Gillibrand turned Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge into a killing zone this morning, as 751 Canada geese were rounded up, removed and slaughtered while they were molting and unable to fly — thanks to Gillibrand’s wrong-headed, shocking attack on geese in NYC’s only federally protected bird sanctuary,” said Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals. “Shame on Senator Gillibrand, whose reputation is forever tarred by this bloody, disgraceful attack on New York City wildlife and a refuge.”
“It’s a total disgrace that USDA agents have been allowed to enter the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and commit acts of violence on peaceful families of Canada geese. This flies in the face of everything that a wildlife refuge represents,” said In Defense of Animals’ Barbara Stagno. “This is a very sad day for New York City and for the world. We will not stop seeking an end to this savagery.”
GooseWatch NYC, a group formed in 2011, recently publicized that more than 500 New York City residents have joined its emergency alert network, members had extended its Prospect Park program and have been guarding parks citywide around the clock in order to photograph potential roundups. USDA Spokeswoman Carol Bannerman claimed that the agency wants “to provide the least stressful situation for the animals being collected… and if there are lots of people around it could be more stressful.” In response, Karopkin said, “The NYC round-ups are conducted by a federal agency in public parks, and the citizens whose taxpayer dollars support the ‘removal’ programs have a right to view and judge for themselves whether they support these policies. Even media outlets have not been granted access to photograph the roundups.” GooseWatch NYC has put out a call for any witnesses to the roundup operation to come forward, especially those with additional photographs.