Duck, Duck the Goose

While the New York battles bedbugs, Staten Islanders fight flocks of geese on its parks and fields.  The estimated 3,354 Canadian geese that squat in the borough’s public parks use the fields as their home and toilet, according to numbers compiled by the National Audubon Society of Birds.

Jackie, an Oakwood resident, complained that the problem creates unsanitary conditions for the residents who frequent the parks.  At Miller Field, where her daughters play soccer on weekends, the players travel the field, dodging dung along the way.

“Miller field is loaded with geese,” she said.   “The kids who play soccer down there are playing in geese crap. It is gross.”

In July, the city euthanized 400 geese in Prospect Park, which sparked protests from residents and animal rights groups.  The measure represented one phase in a plan to eliminate 170,000 of the city’s 250,000 Canadian geese, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

The report cited air traffic safety around the city’s three major airports as the main reason for pursuing the plan.  In 2009, Flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River after flying into a flock of geese minutes after takeoff.  Mayor Bloomberg defended the plan to the Wall Street Journal as a matter of public safety.

Animal rights organizations challenged those claims, pointing to complaints like Jackie’s as the basis for the plan.

“The geese are considered a burden to the parks system,” said Edita Birnkrant, the director of New York’s Friends of Animals, “because they do have a large amounts of excrement during molting.  They figure: ‘we just want to get rid of these animals, we just want to make them disappear, so we’re going to slaughter them all.’”

A spokeswoman for the United States Department of Agriculture, Carol Bannerman, that the department had no specific target areas for the future.

Your thoughts: Should the city kill geese in order to make air travel safer around New York?

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