The Prospect Park geese are at the center of attention, yet again. A group of Brooklyn residents, business owners, and wildlife advocates have devised a program to stand guard over the Prospect Park geese at all hours of the day to prevent federal officials from using mass extermination methods as a way of maintaining the geese population. Armed with binoculars, cameras, and video recording equipment, the pro-geese group is determined to prevent another massacre like last summer’s.
The ordeal began on the morning of July 8, 2010, when in response to aviation safety concerns, Federal Wildlife Services staff boxed up more than 300 geese, including their young, and tossed them into gas chambers. What seemed like a logical solution in maintaining the geese population sparked huge outcry from local residents, who believed they were not informed of governments measures.
The local government had been preparing for another possible geese killing, hiring a “biologist” to manage the geese population. More protests continued after it was found out that USDA staff with the same title have used rifles in Ohio, Alaska, and Iraq to keep geese populations under control, especially near airports. In light of this, Councilmen Brad Lander and Steve Levin (D–Park Slope) introduced new legislation that would prevent another geese slaughter this summer.
Now the advocates have set up stakeouts in the park to make sure no other geese massacres take place. Groups will be set up in the evening on a rotating basis and will use binoculars, cameras, and video recording from secret outdoor locations along the park’s perimeter. “It’s heart-wrenching to think they might target those goslings,” said David Karopkin, to The Brooklyn Paper. “We’re committed to protecting them — and all of the wildlife in the park.”
Although the legality these measures is being questioned, the watch groups maintain that it can be done legally. The stakeouts will go on till the end of summer, and the wildlife advocates will continue to pressure the city to end its goose extermination contract with the feds. The contract will expire end of June.
Many have been critical of the local advocates, stating that the Canadian geese in Prospect Park are an invasive species that are affecting the ecology of the park and raise safety concerns in regards to air travel. Residents however, point out that the geese have adapted after many generations of being in the park and are no longer invasive. They propose more humane ways of maintaining the population such as addling, no feeding regulations, dogs to scare them away, modifying habitats, and other more humane ways of maintaining the population.
“The Prospect Park program encapsulates a more modern, humane and long-term solution to wildlife management,” says Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “The Humane Society of the United States thanks the staff and leadership of Prospect Park and Prospect Park Alliance for implementing an effective program that will help protect the geese from indiscriminate slaughter.”