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Goosebusters Cut Loose, But They Weren't Necessary in the First Place

Wildlife rehabilitator Anne-Katrin Titze shares her opinion on the fate of the Prospect Park geese.

Last Friday, Prospect Park officials informed me that the contract with Goosebusters has been "stopped" for now—parkgoers will no longer see border collies chasing around the 26 adult Canada Geese, one of Prospect Park’s many attempts to control the goose population and prevent another mass gassing.

But in truth, no so-called humane methods have had any impact on the adult Canada Geese population at Prospect Park to begin with.

As of Sunday, the adult Canada Goose count stands at 26 (according to our personal count) and many of the geese are now molting—the process in which the geese shed their feathers and grow new ones, rendering them unable to fly. Nearly all of the Canada Geese that arrived over the fall and winter gradually returned in early April to nest and molt where they were born.

As such, the New York Humane Society's Patrick Kwan, a member of the wildlife management advisory team, should have advised Prospect Park not to use border collies and kayakers to harass the Canada Geese of 2011. There was no reason to believe that there would be a substantial amount of geese at the lake in the spring. If he had monitored the numbers himself, he likely would have seen how foolish the Goosebusters looked.

But instead, the park continued to attempt to control the goose population, though for over two months we’ve reported that the goose count stood just between 25 and 30.

Only 26 Canada Geese have chosen to try and become residents of the 60-acre watercourse of the 585-acre park. That's just one Canada Goose per 22.5 acres or one Canada Goose per 980,100 square feet. The number of geese was so low weeks before Goosebusters even hit the lake.

The USDA simply cannot justify coming to Prospect Park in 2011 after the massacre of all the resident Canada Geese on July 8, 2010 (as we have been saying since November, 2010). With goose-count numbers so low, it seems that it was unnecessary to continue employing Goosebusters and other population control methods.

Is it asking too much to permit such a small number of geese to be able to prosper more than nine miles from our airports at the only lake in Brooklyn?

In February, my partner Ed Bahlman and I met with the new Prospect Park Alliance president and Prospect Park director to discuss our concerns. Since then we’ve had follow-up meetings, keeping Emily Lloyd updated about the count, along with reports on the conditions at Prospect Park Lake for the Canada Geese. She has continued an open dialogue with us and has taken seriously our observations in making this decision.

Positive progress has been made that will improve the conditions, awareness, and strategies in the coming year so that Prospect Park wildlife and their habitat are preserved, protected and maintained.

No one who cares about Prospect Park and its bird life wants what happened in 2010 to be repeated. We want responsible wildlife management that supports the protection of our urban wildlife, as well as the maintenance of their habitats.

It is time for redemption, better late than never.

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