Monday, May 30, 2011

Trip to Randall's Island

I went to Randall's Island early this past Saturday to meet up with Robert Guadagna of Geesebusters (Not GooseBusters). Robert got in touch with us when we heard we were organizing a stake out.

Robert owns a patent on an eagle-shaped kite that once in the air instantly scares off geese and other birds of prey. To take it one step further, he conditions the birds using a whistle to correlate the blowing of a whistle to the flying of the eagle. After some training, you can scare off the birds using only the whistle. Compared to any of the other methods I've ever seen to remove unwanted geese from an area, this by far seems to be the most humane. It is also by far the cheapest.

Robert tested his kite in front of me, there weren't any geese around just at that moment, but as soon as the kite went up, a dozen or two smaller birds immediately took off. He showed me how to use the whistle, which is just a regular gym locker whistle except he takes the ball out. He explained that you can tell if you've had repeat geese in your area if you condition each group with a different whistle sound or pitch. And then we saw a family of geese swim down the river, 4 adults and two gosling (which we didn't scare away).

Some will not appreciate the negative rhetoric about geese on the Geesebusters website, but keep in mind the potential customers are private golf courses, cemeteries and schools, and using kites would prevent much worse harassment. I've heard the kites are being used with success in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. I think it would be great if this method could be applied, or at least tried, on a wide scale basis by people who don't want geese on their private land. This is a solution for anyone that complains about goose poop. No more addling eggs, and no more menacing dogs.

I'm not saying I agree with the idea of harassing geese, I don't, but I know people who would probably literally fire a shotgun at a goose because of where they poop. I'd rather the geese live where they want to be, but when the choices are bad and worse, it's not a tough decision for me.

The kites could also be flown at the airports instead of the previously employed hawks, and would be much more effective and cheaper. But Robert said it was years ago when the USDA actually bought the kites, but for some reason won't use it or even try it.

One more thing about Robert... he was on Randall's Island when the USDA arrived on June 17, 2009. They cornered the geese in fenced-in areas, twist tied the geese feet, crated the geese... and then stepped out to a meeting or breakfast. According to Robert, for almost an hour, the geese were left unattended in their crates on the back of trucks while the agents were inside one of the nearby buildings.

All of the photos and videos are courtesy of Robert Guadagna. I think people need to see these powerful images, which was the original impetus of organizing the stake out. Almost no one ever visits Randall's Island, so the USDA felt free enough to come in daylight, meanwhile they come to places like Prospect Park at 3am.

Even if Prospect Park is off the kill map for 2011, and I'm not convinced it is, there are a lot more sites that are being looked at by the DEC. Robert showed me his list of 2010's, with the sites where the USDA removed geese highlighted.

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