Brooklyn geese protectors strategize for next year

The Canada geese in Brooklyn are growing in their new feathers so they can fly now. The federal wildlife agency, having wiped out the birds in all but Prospect Park, seems to be moving on. But the group of Brooklyn animal lovers who protected the geese in its cornerstone park are preparing new tactics for next year–including trying to execute a citizen’s arrest on the goose removers.

The USDA’s controversial Wildlife Services began a massive goose kill in expanding arcs around the city’s airports, supposedly because of the geese flew into the engines of flight 1549 and caused Captain Sully’s plane to lose power and crash land in the Hudson River. But the agency has a long history of killing geese for their poop–and that reason is cited in official paperwork, if not explanations in the local press.

While the geese live year round in parks and wetlands around the city, the focus of the program has been Prospect Park, where the geese have plenty of pissed off fans and friends. This year the group set up a round the clock goose watch to catch the wildlife catchers in the act. In 2010 the agency acted in the early morning hours, corralling the flightless geese, putting them in vans and gassing them at an undisclosed facility.

The geese lovers wanted to both capture the round-up in pictures and video. They also planned to text dozens of volunteers who would come out to the park at a moment’s notice to witness the round-up–and maybe cause some trouble.

The technique worked–but just in Prospect Park. The USDA avoided the park but cleared out others in the area. The USDA often brought a police escort, activists say.

So they are working on their own legal protection, investigating whether they could execute a citizen’s arrest on federal workers for animal cruelty. Whenever I think of citizen’s arrest, I think of Gomer arresting deputy Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith Show. Even those behind the plan know it’s goofy. But there doesn’t seem to be another clear path to get the government to stop killing the animals.

“It hasnt been tried, so there was some question if it would work,” says Johanna Clearfield, one of the organizers. “Getting arrested for doing a citizen’s arrest would be a lot better than getting arrested for interfering with government operations.” But there was some debate over whether a citizen’s arrester could be arrested for both. Especially if a cop was already on the scene.
Clearfield wants to frame the issue for the public more clearly so they understand that contrary to a NY Post story, none of the goose meat went to homeless people in Pennsylvania to eat. Typically the dead geese are thrown in the garbage.
“Not one bird is going to be be fed to the homeless,” Clearfield says. Feeding hungry people casts a much more favorable light on a program to kill neighborhood geese. You’ll hear the same thing with hunting–even though many hunters swear they will only kill what they can eat.
The real problem is a self-perpetuating, obscure federal agency that can get its own funding from local governments and agribusiness by coming up with plans to kill wildlife–all wildlife–Clearfield says. “This is all about money and wildlife,” she says. “And a bloated, corrupt subdivision of the government that has no oversight.” How else can you explain a massive project to go out and slaughter geese around New York City? Can you ever imagine a grassroots politician going to City Hall with that plan?
pelicanpuffinhummingbird Where to SEE WEIRD BIRDS (All the interesting birds: pelicans, puffins, prairie chickens, vultures, hummingbirds)

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