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June 24, 2009

The HSUS Urges Mayor Bloomberg to Consider Humane Geese Solutions

The Humane Society of the United States

In the wake of news that New York City government has contracted with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to round up and kill up to 2,000 Canada geese, The Humane Society of the United States joins New Yorkers in calling for more effective and humane solutions to resolve problems with geese.

This morning, in a letter to city mayor Michael Bloomberg, The HSUS' New York State Director Patrick Kwan and Director of Urban Wildlife John Hadidian offered to work with the city to develop a long-term, non-lethal management plan for geese. The full text of the letter is below.

June 24, 2009

Dear Mayor Bloomberg:

On behalf of The Humane Society of the United States and our 800,000 members and supporters in New York State, including 217,000 in the City of New York, I urge you give due consideration to a more effective, humane, and transparent goose control program for the city. We share the concerns of many New Yorkers over the hastily implemented action to round up and kill 2,000 resident Canada geese in the metro area in a misguided attempt toward reducing the risk of bird-aircraft strikes.

While we commend your office for seeking proactive steps to protect public safety — especially after the highly visible incident involving migratory Canada geese with Flight 1594, and the thankful resolution of that near disaster with no loss of human life — we are disappointed we did not have the opportunity to share with your office our decades-long experience of successfully and humanely managing wildlife populations, and we hope to offer our assistance for this and future programs.

Studies have shown that the answer to improving safety lies not in repeated removal of wildlife — a killing program merely opens up habitat for other geese to fill, and might actually perpetuate the human safety risk as birds continue to fly into the area. Rather, the answer is to treat the problem at its source — i.e. to make airports and surrounding areas undesirable as habitats for birds to nest or seek forage and refuge, while also preventing population growth with techniques like egg addling and contraceptive baits.

We, along with other animal protection interests, participated over several years in meetings with federal and local government officials and planning sessions concerning the bird hazard issue at LaGuardia airport. We recommended adoption of a landscape management plan to reduce the attractiveness of areas near the airport and to repel geese. That plan was rejected.

It is now time to revisit it and to embrace an even broader planning concept that was first proposed by the nonprofit organization GeesePeace to create a 60-mile zone radiating outwards from the city in which a comprehensive goose nuisance abatement program would be launched.

The issues confronting New York airports are not new to us, and the methodologies we propose have demonstrated measurable results in the broader scientific community. Canada geese can be successfully managed with nonlethal techniques including hazing, aversive conditioning, egg addling and landscape management. The combined effect of these techniques and novel approaches, such as the use of contraceptives such as OvoControl-G (just registered for use in New York), can create effective, long-term and noncontroversial solutions to our conflicts with Canada geese.   

It is time for a visionary concept that will protect human safety in a lasting, environmentally responsible and humane way — a Greater New York plan that will put lasting and environmentally sound solutions into play. Your office should take the leadership role in calling for and creating that plan, and we would request that you seize this initiative.

The Humane Society of the United States would be happy to lend significant support and our expertise to this effort — and work with you to create a model, truly effective goose abatement program for the greater metropolitan area. We look forward to hearing from your office.

Respectfully,

Patrick Kwan, New York State Director
The Humane Society of the United States

John Hadidian, Ph.D., Director, Urban Wildlife
The Humane Society of the United States

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