Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prospect Park's "GooseWatch"

Almost a year ago, news broke that over 300 resident geese making their homes in Prospect Park were rounded up, crated and gassed. I was appalled and heartbroken.

I grew up and still live in the park’s shadow in the Ditmas Park area. As a kid I spent a lot of time at the park, and I have thousands of memories from being there so often. I loved to explore the back paths on my bike, and despite being robbed more than once, Prospect Park has always been a second home to me. I still spend time in the park on my bike, at concerts and other events, and over the past year, observing the geese and recently newborn goslings. It’s true that over the years the park has become a safer place – for humans. But for a year now, the stain of the goose massacre is often what I think of when I visit.

Until June 30, the USDA might still be coming back for most of the rest if not all remaining geese - about 15 at last count, including 3 newborn gosling out of the 6 that hatched - killing these geese would be an atrocity. I’ve heard a lot of arguments for reducing the goose population. Some people say they are disgusting, overpopulated species, polluting the ground with feces, and destroying the habitats of other birds and plants. Others are concerned about flight safety - in the wake of US Airways Flight 1549, geese became a public target when our mayor declared open season saying, “People are not going to stop flying and we have to make a decision. It’s geese or human beings.”

I’ve spent a lot of time researching these claims, and although I admittedly am not an expert, the science behind these views doesn't stand up to common sense logic. If the government and public decides there is a need to reduce the goose population, it should be done in the most humane way possible (several animal organizations have already suggested effective methods for deterring geese). There should be a public forum for this decision making process. The bottom line is that rounding up and gassing these geese is egregiously inhumane, there are better ways to address the concerns relating to air safety or human health.

Since the July 8, 2010 rounding and gassing of over 300 geese at Prospect Park, it has become public knowledge that a contract is in place between the City of New York and the USDA to remove geese from public parks across the city, at a taxpayer cost of $100,000 per year. I urge the mayor not to renew this contract which expires on June 30, 2011, and not to take out another contract in its place. The massacre of Prospect Park geese that took place last summer was wrong, and we don't want to see it happen again, but if it does, it shouldn't be done in secret.

We have a group of really knowledgeable and passionate New Yorkers (mostly Brooklynites), and we are dedicated to protecting the Prospect Park geese, because this is their home too. We will be launching a multi-faceted effort - including protesting and petitioning the mayor, and monitoring the park - to bring attention to their impending doom, and ultimately to try to stop any future slaughter.

If you are interested in joining the stake-out team, or would like to request more information, please email, and please visit and join the Facebook group "For the love of the geese in Prospect Park"


  1. David,

    Thanks for writing and caring about our geese. This planet is not just for humans. Humans are destroying their habitat or as I call it, THEIR HOME. We have to speak out for them. The government should not be harassing and killing them.


  2. Kudos to David and all the compassionate members of GooseWatch!

  3. Well done, David. The geese are fortunate to have you and others as their advocates.

    This struggle goes far beyond one park or even one species of tormented animal.

    It goes to the fundemental question of whether humans are willing are willing to share this planet with the other creatures, who, in many cases were here before we were.

    Certainly birds flew skies eons before man built planes.

    It should not be option to wipe out everything that "gets in our way" or in some way is inconvenient to us.

    Such attitude is arrogant and shortsighted.

    We as humans are capable of better towards the planet and the other species on it.

    Great job, David! Don't give up this important and ground breaking struggle.