A shadowy goose buster will begin a high-paid city gig next week — 18 months after the bird expert’s former employer slaughtered hundreds of waterfowl in Prospect Park.
A wildlife biologist poached from the United States Department of Agriculture is scheduled to begin “managing” waterfowl near airports in early February for the city’s Department of Sanitation.
Job duties for the four-year post, which pays $175,000 annually, include counting geese and other birds, installing “anti-perching devices” and using high-tech sound frequency tools to scare the feathered creatures away, according to a spokesman for the Department of Sanitation.
The agency did not respond to direct questions about whether the biologist’s duties include killing geese — like when the new hire’s previous employer rounded up more than 200 waterfowl and gassed them in the name of aviation safety back in 2010.
Park devotees now fear the city’s new worker is a sign their feathered friends are doomed, especially considering that staffers with the same title working with the wildlife biologist’s previous employer have trapped, tracked and killed birds with guns to keep waterfowl populations down near airports in other cities.
“I just hope the city does the right thing and makes use of other methods,” said wildlife advocate Mary Beth Artz, who last year organized a rally to save the geese in Prospect Park.
Other goose boosters contend that the city’s bird control methods just “harass geese,” causing flocks to separate during migration — potentially increasing local populations of birds that would otherwise return to nests outside the city.
“It is the perfect example of overkill,” said park watchdog Anne-Katrin Titze.
A spokesman for the city was mum about the biologist’s name and title at the federal agency. But he last year explained a “panel of technical experts” — aviation officials among them — stressed the need for the new job position in the wake of the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” landing, which occurred after waterfowl collided with an airplane.
Prospect Park’s feathered residents should be safe at least until molting season this summer, when authorities have the legal right to kill them.Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cn