New Yorkers ready to witness and document geese killing

New York City resident Robert Guadagna took this photo of USDA agents rounding up geese on Randall's Island on June 17, 2009.

Federal agents, if you come back to city parks to kill more geese, they will be ready.

Armed with digital cameras and cell phones, more than 500 New Yorkers are members of GooseWatch NYC, at the ready to photograph if and when the city’s geese will be culled this summer.

GooseWatch NYC was started last year by Brooklynite David Karopkin. Karopkin, 27, said he started the group after nearly 400 Prospect Park geese were killed in in 2010. Agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture started killing geese in city parks, after two geese brought down Flight 1549, the “Miracle on the Hudson” landing in January 2009.

“I made a decision I wasn’t going to be in my bed when the USDA came back to Prospect Park,” said Karopkin.

Karopkin sends his members a text message, voicemail and e-mail letting them know where the agents are when they are spotted. He instructs members of GooseWatch not to interfere with the roundup.

“The only thing we would like to do is capture footage,” he said. “So when the USDA claims what they are doing is humane, we can show what they’re doing.”

USDA agents removed geese from at least 13 city parks last year, ranging from Flushing Meadows Park in Queens to Inwood Hill Park at the tip of Manhattan.

June and July are the prime months for when the geese can be corralled.

“They come in June and July because that’s when the geese are molting,” said Karopkin. “They have goslings, they are vulnerable.”

The geese can’t fly away during their molting season, so they are basically grounded.

“It’s when their new flight feathers are coming in and they can’t fly,” said Edita Birnkrant, director of Friends of Animals. “Both baby geese and adults are stuffed into crates, transported long distances in high heat and slaughtered.”

In the past two years, the geese were gassed to death. But last year, after complaints, the geese were butchered and pounds of meat were given to food banks in Pennsylvania.

But Karopkin said there has to be a better way to keep planes safe, and birds alive.

“Unless the plan is literally to kill every single birds you’re never going to reduce the air strikes to zero,” he said. “We’re just killing birds and crossing our fingers.”

Robert Guadagna took this close-up shot of geese in crates after the USDA agents who rounded them up at Randall’s Island took an hour-long breakfast, according Karopkin.

A history of geese killing

For the past three summers, the USDA has been killing geese within a seven-mile radius of the city’s three airports, JFK , LaGuardia and Newark.

2009: 1,235 geese were killed in New York City.

2010: USDA agents killed 1,509 Canada geese in parks throughout the city, 368 alone from Prospect Park.

2011: 575 Canada geese removed and killed from New York City

2012: The USDA did not answer when Metro asked if officials are coming back this summer. “Dates
and locations for removal of resident Canada geese have not been
developed, are dependent on numerous variables, and would not be shared
in advance,” USDA spokesman Lee Humberg wrote in an email exchange with
Karopkin, posted on his website.


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