May 11, 2011 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Wing slip! Goose population way down in Prospect Park

The Brooklyn Paper
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Goose census takers are finishing up the federal government’s official count of waterfowl in Brooklyn — but the would-be bird exterminators aren’t likely to fire up their gas chambers again this year because the population of local geese has already plummeted.

This week, only 23 geese were spotted in Prospect Park — where more than 300 Canada geese were slaughtered by the federal government in the name of aviation security last July.

The decreased population is a result of a multi-faceted and non-lethal approach to animal control after the outcry over last year’s massacre. Park biologists have covered eggs in corn oil to prevent their development, brought in dogs to chase geese away, and enforced a strict “no feeding” policy.

As a result, Park officials say that no goslings have been born this season, and many geese have moved on.

Of course, the goose population was greatly reduced by the slaughter itself.

As such, it’s been nearly a silent spring in Prospect Park.

“The park is almost devoid of geese,” said wildlife advocate Mary Beth Artz. “I don’t know what they plan to count.”

The goose count is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which began killing geese in New York in 2009, though only within a five-mile radius of both LaGuardia and JFK airports. That killing field was expanded last year to seven miles — into Prospect Park — without public discussion. The result was the massacre of hundreds of geese last July.

In the weeks before that slaughter, feds took the same goose census that they are conducting now, counting geese at 63 city properties then evaluating factors such as distance to airports and waterfowl populations to determine if they should be “removed,” said USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman. Geese were then captured at 19 of those locations.

Violent measures may not be needed this year because of the success of humane efforts to keep the goose population down. In the passed two months, biologists have combed nearly every inch of Prospect Park, tracking mated pairs of geese back to their nests, where the eggs have been coated with corn oil to suffocate the embryos before development. This prevents goslings from hatching in the weeks before the season in which officials can legally exterminate them.

Along with this “egg addling” technique, the Park has hiring a company called “Goose Busters,” which uses border collies to scare away the squawkers.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Ferrell Sklerov said that the results of this year’s survey “will inform the decision-making process” of a steering committee formed in the wake of the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson,” the 2009 US Airways crash that might have been caused after a collision between geese and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s Airbus A320.

The committee is comprised of city, state and national wildlife officials, plus officials from the Port Authority, which manages the city’s airports.

There is no precise “goose count” that would prompt another killing, but higher populations mean a greater threat to aviation, Bannerman said.

And Mayor Bloomberg has shown a zero-tolerance approach to geese. The Brooklyn Paper reported exclusively last year that it was the Department of Environmental Protection, under orders from the mayor, that pushed for the expansion of the kill zone to seven miles from the airports.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Steven Rosenberg from Park Slope says:
And when in the year do the swallows normally return to Capistrano?
May 11, 2011, 7:25 am
JohnJamesAudobon from ParkSlope says:
that is 23 too many
May 11, 2011, 7:54 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Cull them again - they will learn - they are not bird brains.
May 11, 2011, 8:32 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
WHO has decided that we have/ had "too many" geese?  There is NO democratic process in place.  There appear to be wildlife "haters" and wildlife "lovers."  If wildlife "haters" had their way, all parks would be astroturf and HBO would broadcast monster-sized movies on projections screens.  The park is a place for nature.  Nature.  Nature includes things like: squirrels, sparrows, starlings, geese, butterflies -- things that move around.  Or fly.  It is a park.  There have been millions of dollars spent on Prospect park to "restore" the wetlands there.  Wetlands are a natural habitat for things that walk, run, fly.  buzz.  sting, hiss.  Natural life.  wild life.
May 11, 2011, 9:37 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
WHO has decided that we had/ have TOO many geese? I know that hundreds of local residents have been consistently protesting the culling, the killing and the "reduction" over the past year. I participated in the "Hands Across Prospect Park" where families showed up on a wind-chilled day in March (March 26) and Senator Eric Adams and Rep Letitia James spoke eloquently about their love for our resident geese. Not for the "need" to REDUCE their number and/or to KILL them.
May 11, 2011, 9:47 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
No doubt there are people who hate the fact that wild birds (being living creatures) will eat and also poo ("All things go Poo" isn't that the popular children's book?) but in fact bird waste has been used as fertilizer and it takes literally 1/2 hour for any parks worker to hose down any area that may have "excessive" poo. That is a fraction of the cost of all of this money now spent (thousands) to "oil the eggs" of these poor geese.
May 11, 2011, 9:47 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
I have a license from the EPA, I am a wildlife rehabilitator and I happen to know -- unlike, apparently the EPA or the DOH or the Parks Dept or the Mayor's office, that "oiling the eggs" which prevents them from hatching also causes the mother goose to accelerate in producing a "viable" egg and hence often causes critical health issues (a severe loss of calcium which goes into the creation of the egg) -- in short, causing health problems in our wildlife for no justifiable reason.
May 11, 2011, 9:48 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
WE DO NOT NEED TO REDUCE, WE DO NOT NEED TO KILL OR CULL. What we DO need is to protect, preserve and nurture our blessing of wildlife. Do your readers have any idea of the millions of birds who have been painfully exterminated by the recent BP oil spill (very little of the relief money went to wildlife rescue, most went to building back up business); and the recent nuclear disaster in Japan. Is there any oversight or understanding of the "big picture?"
May 11, 2011, 9:49 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
We have ONE earth. And here in Prospect Park we are blessed to have wild, healthy geese, ducks, starlings, pigeons, sparrows and hundreds of other species (migratory) that come through the park. It is a TREASURE. Now the Parks Dept. brings in it's barking dogs to chase the geese and to help foster a hostile, horrible nature-hating atmosphere in a place that so many of us used to call our sanctuary.
**Here is a link to the recent Prospect Park rally to PROTECT our geese:
**Here is a link to show you -- In FACTS -- how many thousands of our wildlife the USDA (through "wildlife services") is killing ACROSS the country. Thousands of wild, defenseless animals are slaughtered including deer, starlings, hawks, Bobcats, beavers, otters, eagles (yes!), ducks, squirrels, raccoons -- YOU NAME it. Where is the democratic process here? Or is this more of a Tyranny?
****Call your local reps -- Brad Lander, Bill DiBlasio, Chuck Schumer, the Prospect Park Alliance, The Mayor’s office (call 311) -- and tell them to LEAVE our wildlife ALONE!!!!!!!!
May 11, 2011, 9:51 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
"higher goose populations" mean a "greater threat" to aviation has ALREADY been shot down as completely FALSE. The geese in our park are RESIDENT geese. They do not fly in the airspace used by our airline industry. IF they did -- still -- then what in the world was NYC thinking when it CREATED the Jamaica BIRD SANCTUARY located directly across from JFK??????? We spent millions of dollars to CREATE a sanctuary in order to slaughter the birds who nest there?
Airplanes can use radar to detect flying migrations, in addition, a simple protective netting over the engines would prevent "bird strikes." If one bird could bring down a plane then we have reason to execute ALL birds who exist EVERYWHERE.
May 11, 2011, 9:55 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Johanna you are a wildlife rehabilitator - how did the sparrows and starlings arrive in Brooklyn???

We lost the native blue birds to these pests.

We also lost the black ducks, loons and cranes native to Brooklyn to be replaced by these geese.

Use facts, not feelings.
May 11, 2011, 9:59 am
Jamie from Flatbush says:
By the second week in May, maybe the wild geese have flown north for the summer, and the ones still hanging around are the ones that have been domesticated by the people who come to the park every day to feed them.
May 11, 2011, 10:01 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
APHIS has long been one of the worst and most brutal exterminators of birds using the "excuse" that the bird is not "native." We have thousands of birds which migrated here and then decided to make this area their home. Thousands. This is akin to the movement in the early time of our nation's history where there was a push to send African Americans back to Africa because they were not "native" to the US. There is no debating that many species co-exist and there is give and take within the bird and animal kingdom. If we are wise, then we study the habits and migrations and we work WITH nature, not destroy it.
May 11, 2011, 10:06 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
sparrows are not pests. There is no hierarchy in nature. Visit Cornell University's amazing website
and also visit
or on facebook (search for wild bird fund)
to see the amazing varieties of sparrows. "Pests" is a word that gets thrown around whenever people want to denegrate a species. It is the same as using the "N" word. It is a cheap, inhumane, arrogant, human-centric word that should be deleted from our minds and our hearts.
May 11, 2011, 10:10 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Here is a link to what APHIS is doing (Destroying) our wildlife -- across the country -- every nook and cranny.
Here is what they consider "pests."

Foxes, beavers, otters, Eagles, sparrows, starlings, geese, deer, squirrels, wolves, hawks, crows -- And the list goes on. WHO has decided that we -- the people -- are supporting this holocaust? Instead of counting the geese, maybe they need to count our vote.
May 11, 2011, 10:13 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
You "ducked" the question Johanna - the sparrows are not native, but brought here by an ignorant do gooder.

How do you like you goose? Roasted?
May 11, 2011, 10:34 am
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Yellow Hook: All creatures originated from Africa and during the many evolutions of the planet, continents shifting, volcanos, other natural eruptions, verious specied (including homo sapiens) have ended up in various locations. There is no "correct" area for any one bird or species when you take into consideration the origin of all species.

All life is sacred. Nobel prize winner Albert Schweitzer, "Until man extends the circle of compassion to all living things, he will not himself know peace."

How do I like my ducks? Alive.
May 11, 2011, 11:03 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
So Johanna, you have no problem with dogs on the Galápagos Islands.

You have proven to be out of your league.

Geese are the Kudzu of the pond.

Have a good life.
May 11, 2011, 11:17 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Kudos to Johanna for her well informed and truthful comments.

Meanwhile, someone should inform Yellow Hook that the white man "invaded" America and sent Native Americans to reservations.

What is his "remedy" for that?
May 11, 2011, 1:13 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Patty if you want to be on the same plain as animals you are welcome.

If you want to posture about nature while meddling as Johanna does, you are welcome.

Both poitions speak of your failure to grasp the education you were given, placing feelings above facts.
May 11, 2011, 1:54 pm
O2 says:
well patty - the native americans ALSO migrated
May 11, 2011, 2:50 pm
K. from ArKady says:
What's puzzling to me is why anyone would want to get rid of the geese, given that they protect you from the local airports desire to fly more planes lower over your neighborhoods. They fly low enough as it is. Say Or, you sound like a savvy biologist, tell us what happens when you remove a population of animals from a habitat leaving a vacuum? What do you think is going to replace the geese? I'll give you a hint. You see more of them in the sky every year. And they are not pidgeons.
May 11, 2011, 3:09 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Don't leave a vacuum.

Breed the original population back and release them where you want them.

It's been done with the Puffins of Seal Island and Matinicus Rock in Maine.

Oh, and planes fly low to land. Law of physics.
May 11, 2011, 5:15 pm
K. from ArKady says:
If you want to understand why the geese are being exterminated in Prospect Park, you need to know about runway 4 at LaGuardia.
May 11, 2011, 6:29 pm
M. from Brooklyn says:
When will they finally address the issue of PP being farther alot than 7 miles from the airports?

In the USDA goose removal docs from last year they specify "Description of Damage" as Potential Aircraft strike, fecal droppings on grassy areas AND MY FAVORITE-

"Potential decrease in recreational use". There you go!

Why don't they just come out with it and stop the lies!
May 12, 2011, 10:03 am
Joe from Carroll Gardens says:
I think they are all at Marine Park Golf Course.
May 12, 2011, 12:32 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
YELLOW Whoever you are -- dogs on the Galápagos Islands is not the same as geese in North America. Dogs pose a threat to the native species as they are predators. Geese? Are you kidding? And no one here is saying that all wildlife belongs un-checked with no oversight or management. The past 10 years, I have devoted my self to pushing for a new city agency that would oversee the MANAGEMENT and PROTECTION And the ASSESSMENT of the wildlife we have, what our urbal policies should be and integrate that oversight with educated environmentalists and biologists. The time is NOW to take the reins after such massive and unchecked destruction caused by Whom? Oh, that would be HUMANS. HUMANS came to North America less than 200 years ago (the US) and have now destroyed over 97% of its natural forests. Who is the actual predator here? Who is the threat here? The carbon emissions, the nuclear disasters, the toxic BP spills, all of this comes from who, again? Oh, that would be HUMANS. What creature kills its own kind for reasons other than survival? Oh, that would be us. There needs to be a wildlife restoration and re-invention, not this random narcissistic conversation you are having with yourself.
May 12, 2011, 12:39 pm
t-rex from Windsor Terrace says:
Over the last few years there have been too many darn geese in the park. Their green poop is everywhere (South side of the park at least) and at points it has been simply gross, i.e. cannot walk anywhere along the lake on the southside without smearing one's shoes in green turds. This could eventually raise bacteria levels in the lake and possibly present health problems to the youngsters who play along the water.

Something has to be done! Do any of you have any ideas of how to rectify the situation? Or can you only cry foul? Inaction is not an option.

It IS man's job to control the situation in an urban setting. Regardless of the "wild life" you see in the park or how natural it feels, it IS still an URBAN setting. That being so, it is necessary for intervention on so many levels for the illusion of the park being a natural setting to continue. And the feeling that the park is a natural setting IS an illusion, and it succeeds quite well in keeping this illusion alive (many comments above illustrate this).

The park is not some wild-life preserve, rather it is a man-made environment designed to provide a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life for PEOPLE. Of course, the beauty of that which is nature is what makes the park so great, but it is far from some wild-setting where nature is left to take its course without the hand of man playing its role. Simply put, it is a controlled environment and if it weren't the park would fail in its purpose. The park does a great job in creating that feeling that you are immersed in nature, but this is a controlled environment.

In order to keep the illusion alive, constant intervention is necessary. I can remember park goers whining when some large Norway maples (a terribly annoying invansive species) were being dropped in the Lookout Hill area. Those who voiced negative opinions could not see why the removals were necessary. All they saw were trees being sawed and could not understand how any healthy tree should be dropped. They lacked understanding of the bigger picture. Same goes here.

Without intervention the geese populations will become overwhelming resulting in destroyed turf, high (and possibly disease causing) bacteria levels, traffic safety issues possibly causing harm for drivers and bikers, and the possibility of safety issues due to the species' aggression during certain times of the year.

So, what do you got besides "let it be?" If you understand the dynamics of urban ecology along with the necessities of maintaining the illusion of nature in such an urban setting you will know that inaction is not an option.
May 12, 2011, 12:46 pm
Seamus from Park Slope says:
Humans need to STOP intervening.
We are continually needing to "fix" the problems we've created.
May 12, 2011, 1:28 pm
Jamie from Flatbush says:
T-Rex makes excellent points. The park is an artificial, manmade environment that provides habitat for certain plant and animal species. That lake is filled with tap water, fer chrissake! 25 years ago when I first started visiting the park regularlly, there were multiple species of waterfowl in large numbers. Then a large populaton of Canada Geese took up year-round residence, abetted by the humans who feed them, and drove out many other bird species. So they have definitely had an adverse effect on the park's biodiversity.

And Johanna, if you really believe humans came to N America only 200 years ago, you are even more nuts than the 'young earth' Biblical literalists.
May 12, 2011, 4:02 pm
Mary from WT says:
Yes, biodiversity is incredibly important, no denying that- however we are referring to a place that was "created" by man, a place that has attracted many species, one of which being the Canada Goose. Who are they to fault a species for just trying to survive?

The issue stems from the horrific, barbaric ways (THE GASSING) in which those humans who are sadly in charge have determined to be the "best" way to "deal" with the "problems" they have created ("they", meaning humans). This process has been going on around the country, undercover for years with not many people knowing about it.

Perhaps now that citizens are aware of what actually goes on, policies will eventually change for the better.

This all boils down to $ in the pockets of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who are only concerned with their own agendas and do not care about those non-human constituents who do not vote.

Incredible that airports were designed and built near one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries on the east coast- makes no sense and worse is that NYC is located on the Atlantic Flyway, a major migration route for millions of birds for millions of years.
May 13, 2011, 8:17 am
PattyA from Manhattan says:
T-Rex: (what an accurate name, as you really do sound like a dinosaur.)

According to the Dept of Health, geese don't pose any significant "health threat" (except to those with empty lives and active imaginations).

You whine about the goose droppings which are mostly recycled grass and act as fertilizer.

If grass bothers you that much then stay out of the park.

As for the "intervention" you support, it was done last year at PP. It was, in fact an extermination of the park's ENTIRE goose population.

Still bothered by "goose droppings" from less than 20 geese on a 500 acre park?

Then, you have a problem far bigger than what any "intervention" (other than the ones shown on TV) is going to solve.
May 13, 2011, 1:53 pm
PattyA from Manhattan says:
Jaime and T-Rex: You want to blame the geese for the fact other waterfowl left PP?

LOL!!! That really is hilarious.

You guys must really have blinders on that block out everything but Canada geese.

That "everything" consists of garbage thrown all around the park, runoffs from BBQs and discarded fishing lines that get entangled around birds's feet and bills.

What bird, other than the very tolerant and sturdy geese would want to live around all that?

One supposes you guys blame the geese for everytime it rains or summer changes to winter.

The REALITY is most waterfowl like to hang with the geese for reasons of sercurity and danger warnings.

Where you have geese you have other waterfowl from mallards to egrets to swans to commorants to shovelers.

Where you don't have geese, you have little of anything else.

That is what I see over years at Central Park.

Instead of whining about the geese, you might gain a little more credibility if you spent some time actually OBSERVING the geese and their relationship with OTHER birds. DUH!
May 13, 2011, 2:02 pm
Art525 from Park slope says:
I am just boggled by this constant talk of lots of geese poop. I walk the park around the lake and I really don't see any. I have kept my eye out for it because of this constantly stated argument. I have asked people "Do you see goose poop around here?" "Nope". I have never seen anyone step in any or even have a concern about it. I do see lots of horse poop. It is really abundant Do you want them rounded up and "euthanized"? And of course that was never the rationale for the slaughter in the first place.
May 14, 2011, 11:53 am
Art525 from Park Slope says:
Hey Jamie, if the park is an artificial man made environment how can you argue that one species is indigenous and another is invasive? The geese flew here on their own they weren't introduced as sparrows were as someone mentioned here. So couldn't it be argued that their being here is "natural", in fact more natural than the park and the "tap water" lake.
May 14, 2011, 12:03 pm
Liz from Brooklyn says:
I agree Art525! The geese flew here on their own.
They don't know it is a "man made" area.

All they know is that it is a greenspace and a safe haven for themselves and their goslings.
May 18, 2011, 7:52 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Better number for the Prospect Park Alliance
Is 718 965 8951
May 24, 2011, 2:11 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
T Rex -- if you are upset about the goose droppings, maybe you have not strolled through the Park on any given weekend of - best ever - Monday m orning after the weekend. The mountains of HUMAN TRASH and HUMAN WASTE have been documented every year.
Millions of water birds including endangered species have now been impacted by both the Japanese nuclear disaster and the BP Oil spill. We need a global view here. If our park had a healthy and happy geese population, why would we destroy it. The USDA made money on the kill contract, that is why. And the Mayor could fend off liabilty for potential accident law suits.
May 24, 2011, 2:29 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
May 24, 2011, 2:30 pm
Johanna Clearfield from Park Slope says:
Jamie. Jeezus. 200 years ago - I am talking about the European settlement of AMERICA. I am talking about the statistic that in the past 100 years, we (Americans) have destroyed 97% of the forest that was here. That is what I am quoting. So maybe think on that.
May 24, 2011, 2:33 pm

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