MANHATTAN — Wildlife biologists rounded up and killed nearly 400 Canada Geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, in what officials called a safety precaution for New York’s airways, the New York Times reported.
Workers from the federal Agriculture Department herded the geese into a fenced area on Thursday and then took them to a building to be gassed with carbon dioxide, according to the Times.
“It’s a horrible end,” Anne-Katrin Titze, a park resident and bird feeder, told the paper. “It’s eerie to see a whole population gone.”
“There’s not one goose on this lake. It looks as though they’ve been Photoshopped out.”
The goal was to eliminate most of the geese within seven miles of the city’s major airports, a measure officials said was necessary to protect airline passengers.
“The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety,” Agriculture Department spokesperson Carol A. Bannerman told the Times. “In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold.”
The Prospect Park flock was among thousands being thinned out after a pack of geese flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 causing it to crash into the Hudson River in January 2009.
The timing of the euthanizing was tied to the birds’ annual molting, when the loss of feathers prevented their ability to fly.
“The fact that this was done without letting the public know is the first concern,” frequent park visitor Ed Bahlman told the Times. “There are so many people in the park over the last four days who noticed the geese were gone.”
Wildlife birds in other parts of the country can be chased away by dogs or firecrackers. New York does not have a relocation program and the geese need to be killed, Bannerman told the paper. The carcasses will be bagged and disposed of in a landfill.