Monday, December 22, 2014

Feds gather Vannie’s geese for slaughter

By Felix Holoszyc-Pimentel

Van Cortlandt Park’s goose population is smaller, but the Canadian honkers haven’t flown north for the summer. The federal Department of Agriculture has removed 27 Canadian geese from the park and its golf course.  The removal was part of an effort by the department to reduce concentrations of geese that could pose a hazard to aviation in the New York City area.  

The department inspects locations within a seven-mile radius of any New York Port Authority airport and determines if the fowl population there is dangerous enough to warrant removal.  Inspections typically take place during the spring and in early June and are usually focused on New York City parks and golf courses.  

The criteria that determine the level of risk in any given area were developed by the New York City Airports Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee, which was formed in 2009 to coordinate Canadian geese and other wildlife mitigation efforts in the New York Metropolitan area.  

Any property inspected within five miles of an airport with ten or more geese is considered eligible for the operation, and any property inspected between five to seven miles is considered eligible with twenty or more geese.  

However, The USDA inspectors take a number of factors into account when determining the level of danger in the area.  “It’s a combination of things that make up hazard,” said Carol Bannerman, spokesperson for the USDA Animal and Plant Heath Inspection Service,  “That is the number of geese observed, their impact on the park itself, the capacity for it to become a hazard, as well as any efforts that would discourage an abundance of geese at the park.”  Such efforts on the part of the parks can create flexibility for the inspectors’ decision.

The USDA must obtain a permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service before beginning their removal.  The geese lose their flight feathers for a period of a month while molting.  

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