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July 26, 2010

Gaggle of Problems with N.Y. Plans to Kill Canada Geese

We had a fantastic conference this weekend, with nearly 1,000 citizens from across the nation gathering in Washington for the Taking Action for Animals event to learn about the issues and to improve their skills in becoming stronger animal advocates. I was heartened to see so many fabulous people commit to working hard to make the world a better and safer place for all animals.

Canada goose in water
McFarland/The HSUS

At the same time I was feeling optimism about our swelling ranks, I was reminded of the challenges ahead. New York Times writer Isolde Raftery reported on Saturday of the plans by local, state, and federal officials to kill more than 150,000 Canada geese in New York state alone, presumably because some people see the birds as a nuisance. Earlier this month, Brooklyn residents were shocked when 400 geese were rounded up in Prospect Park and killed.

In our day, such plans for mass slaughter are wrong and unacceptable. Even if there are concerns about geese, there is just no reason to resort to capturing them and gassing them, or increasing or suspending kill limits for hunters who want to shoot these birds. There are humane population control techniques, such as egg addling, that are known as effective in controlling and ultimately reducing goose population numbers.

The HSUS is strongly opposed to this killing, as are other responsible voices and experts. The HSUS is particularly concerned that the federal government, specifically the Wildlife Services program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, may execute much of the killing.

We need a federal agency to help with wildlife conflicts. But we do not need a federal agency that is just a contract killer for the states, local communities, or private interests that want wildlife quietly liquidated. The Wildlife Services program has needed reform for a long time, and it is past due that the Obama Administration deliver change to this agency. In the past, mass killing may have seemed like the only option. But it is no longer an acceptable response.

Please call Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at 202-720-3631 or email him and politely urge him to change the ways of Wildlife Services and to take no part in a mass killing program of geese in New York. New York City residents can also call 311 to encourage the Mayor’s Office to work with The HSUS on a more humane, effective and transparent plan. Our tax dollars should not be used for these scorched earth policies. Vilsack should turn Wildlife Services into humane wildlife services, and help us resolve human-wildlife conflicts. Let’s remember, if there are 250,000 geese in New York, there are 19 million people in the state. It’s not like we humans do not have a role in these conflicts.

If we have the will, we can figure out a way to coexist.

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