A Sad Day for Inwood Hill Park: Geese Seized by USDA for Slaughter With Complicity of the Mayor (And Why This is Wrong)

Updated 5:35 p.m.

Canada Geese at Prospect Park last year, since killed

How long will Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the NYC Parks Department, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the Port Authority (which controls NYC air space) be able to put up a pretense that killing Canada Geese that reside in New York City parks is making our airspace safer? This pretense is giving them license to massacre them for the third year in a row.

When will the media start doing its own research and not just repeat back information pro forma from the Mayor and city agency press releases?

800-900 Canada Geese are scheduled to be killed throughout NYC parks in the coming weeks ; this is on top of the 1600 killed last year and 1200 in 2009. (Prospect Park’s geese, close to 400 killed last year, have been given a reprieve.)

Have they actually looked at any of the research? Animal Welfare Institute analyzed the Wildlife Strikes Database and statistics state that “approximately .013 percent of all take offs and landings struck wildlife. The government claims that only one in five (20 percent) are reported. Yet, assuming this is accurate, even if 100 percent of all strikes were reported, this would still mean that less than .068 percent of all aircraft operations struck wildlife.”

In addition, according to statistics, 45 % of all fatal accidents are due to pilot error. Comforting, eh? There is no category on this database for wildlife strikes. There is “other” which is less than 1%.

It seems it’s a lot harder to address human error and takes a lot more guts to speak out on that than it is to kill some innocent geese trying to go about living their lives.

A report on what happened in Inwood from Suzanne who lives there and wrote this last night:

Dear Inwood friends:

I was out on the peninsula this morning when a convoy of trucks pulled up carrying canoes and plastic crates.  It was the people from the Department of Agriculture who had come to capture and kill all of our geese.  There were 30 who had made their home here in our park, including the babies.

There were about a dozen geese in the barbecue area and I started to move in their direction to scare them off to try to save them when one of the men told me that if I interfered with the capture, he would have me arrested If I hadn’t had the dogs with me, I would have accepted that challenge.  It would have been worth it to save a few of the geese.  But realized that if they took me to jail, they would put Bodhi and Bindu in the pound, so I had to leave as they requested.  If my son had been here to take the dogs, I would have accepted the challenge just to publicize this barbarity.  (He’s still in Paris.)

I came back about 15 minutes later with my camera, after calling 311 to register my horror with Bloomberg’s office and the Parks Department, but they had already left with all the geese.  I also contacted NY1 tv (desk@ny1news.com.)  All of the geese were gone, except for two in the far distance.

There is an article in today’s Metro New York about the rounding up and slaughtering of city geese. Check it out at Metro.

If everyone called or emailed to complain about this, perhaps it would make a difference.  It’s too late to save them this year, but this is the third year of this policy and maybe we could prevent a repeat of this next year.  Let’s do everything we can to stop this cruelty. Please call the Mayor (#212/788-3000), Parks Department and email NY1 at the email address above.  Thanks.

A very heart broken Suzanne, Bodhi and Bindu

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UPDATE: Mayor’s office does not like getting calls and 311 is discouraging people from calling and unclear if they are taking complaints at 311 unless you ask for a supervisor. You can fax Mayor’s office at #212/312-0700.

There will be a protest outside Mayor Bloomberg’s mansion with animal and wildlife advocates and concerned New Yorkers organized by Friends of Animals:

When: Thursday, June 30, 2011, 6pm-8pm
Where: Mayor Bloomberg’s Townhouse: 17 East 79th Street, between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue

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Previous WSP Blog post: The Killing of the Prospect Park Geese

“Crimes Against Nature:” The NYC Parks Department

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Another story appeared over the weekend in the New York Times(3/22) “In a City Park, a Crime Against Nature” about the killing of 35 cedar trees in Inwood Hill Park.

I’m amazed at the ability of the Parks Department to spin things.

Forestry worker Katerli Bounds, who discovered the “ruined cedars,” told the Times, “It’s kind of disheartening.”

Well, yeah. It was kind of disheartening when the Parks Department slaughtered 11 old trees at Washington Square Park for the misguided decision to “align” the fountain with the Arch. It was kind of disheartening when the Bronx lost 300 to 400 trees at two parks for building of a new Yankee Stadium. It was kind of disheartening when Parks Department destroyed 105 trees at East River Park during its “reconstruction.” It was kind of disheartening to learn that Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe wants to cut down 14 majestic trees at Union Square Park to make room for Danny Meyer, who is also on the board of the Union Square Partnership – the local BID(business improvement district), to have a restaurant there in the historic pavilion.

Disheartening?

If the 35 trees slaughtered at Inwood Hill Park are deemed arborcide, then I’d say that Parks Commissioner Benepe has quite a record on his hands.

How is it against the law for a stranger to kill 35 trees on City Parks land and yet for the Parks Department — in the interest of privatization of our Parks — to ax multiple numbers (tens. hundreds. thousands.) of healthy trees, that is just fine?

How does one qualify as arborcide with a fine and jail time and the other doesn’t?

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In other Parks news, Metro reported on March 20th, that the cost for building replacement parkland “as part of the controversial Yankee Stadium project has jumped 122 percent since 2006 — and 280 percent since the team first proposed taking Macombs Dam and Mullaly parks in 2004.”

(At Washington Square Park, budget for Phase I alone has jumped from $6 million to $13 million. Original total budget for two phases of this unwanted “plan”: $16 million.)

Commissioner Benepe stated at the City Council hearing on Wednesday 3/19 that the Parks Department is “committed to replacing parkland” with tree replacement of 8000 trees “to mitigate the ones cut” in the Bronx for the Stadium.

Benepe stated, “It’s going to be hard to find room to plant all the trees we plan to plant.”

(That sounds like responsible policy, doesn’t it?)

At Washington Square Park, in Phase I alone, they stated up to 16 trees are up for chopping (11 thus far) but there would be up to 39 REPLACEMENT trees. That’s 23 additional trees. So it’s all good — according to the Parks Department and the City Council. Except it’s not.

Parks Department Commissioner Benepe’s spin is clever and it’s manipulative. He cannot cavalierly advocate for the destruction of our city trees — and for the destruction of our city, via endless privatization and homogenization of public space — and then state that it’s magically okay because there will be “new trees planted.” The Parks Department is supposed to act as STEWARDS for the trees, NOT — as per Mayor Bloomberg’s directive — for Danny Meyer and the Tisch Family and NYU.

When will this end? And how do we get this to stop?