Give Geese A Chance
Earlier this afternoon, when a crowd of concerned citizens gathered by the lake in Prospect Park, a flock of geese in V formation landed near the water. The geese had returned to Prospect Park despite last year’s culling, when 368 birds were rounded up in the middle of the night and gassed to death.
A “Hands Around the Lake” demonstration was organized today to prevent the mass culling from happening again this summer. Verite Catering, prepared vegan snacks for the particpants.
Mary Beth Purdy-Artz gave the opening remarks and introduced the first speaker. Council member Letitia James of Clinton Hill told the crowd about her roots in Prospect Park. Born in Methodist Hospital, she grew up in the neighbohood. When her family couldn’t afford to go on vacation, they came to Prospect Park. The geese issue is close to her heart. When people ask her why she’s working on this issue, she tells them, “You don’t know Tish.” Contrary to popular belief, she said, “I was once an ugly duckling.” When kids made fun of her at school, she came to the park and talked to the geese.
“Though people may make fun of us and call us crazy,” she said, “we know what we are doing here is right.” She said that the geese cull is a”flawed and failed policy.” “They should not have to die, but fly.”
Edita Birnkrant, of Friends of Animals, also spoke. She noted that Friends of Animals presented Mayor Bloomberg’s staff with its Canada Goose Habitat Modification Manual, which includes landscaping policies to deter geese from particular areas. She discussed the importance of finding cruelty-free alternatives:
“Desperate to help, some advocates are supporting invasive and traumatic population-control methods such as addling (destroying eggs by shaiking, piercing or coating the eggs with oil); and the use of hazing dogs to chase geese from their nests. The end result would still be parks emptied of geeese. Friends of Animals will always oppose these control methods just as we oppose killing.”
A young boy named Orlando warmed everyone’s heart with his thoughtful remarks on the situation. He talked about the importance of geese in inspriring art and life. “What parent hasn’t heard their kid say, ‘hey, look at the geese’?” “In many ways,” Orlando told us, “geese are smarter than us.” They can live in a lake and fly without a plane. They don’t need GPS. “Do they make machines, use electricity or cause global warming? ” he asked, presenting another fundamental question: Is what we do to them fair?
State Senator Eric Adams drove the message home and came prepared with his own banner. He talked about the strength of the bond between parent and child—for all animals— and the importance of instilling compassion in the next generation. “If we save these birds, we will save our children and we will save ourselves,” he said. “You don’t have to make the USDA into the United States Destruction of Animals,” he continued. “All we are saying, is give geese a chance.”