Goose lovers flocked to Prospect Park yesterday, sending a message to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to keep his hands off park geese.
More than 100 people – from local politicians to animal activists and young animals lovers – gathered yesterday by the lakeside in Prospect Park in peaceful protest of the city’s goose gassing.
“Our goal here today, everyone, is to demand that Mayor Bloomberg end his contract with the USDA to ban Canada Geese and choose only the most humane alternatives available to extermination,” said rally organizer Mary Beth Artz, encouraging rally goers to flood the mayor with calls and comments in opposition to the extermination.
The “Hands Around the Lake” event concluded with a human chain, stretching partially around Prospect Park Lake. The event was a “visual statement” in opposition to a standing contract between the city and the Department of Agriculture, which secretly gassed hundreds of park geese last summer after they were declared a threat to aviation safety.
New York State Senator Eric Adams shared his reasons for opposing the slaughter.
"Many of us have walked through this park after a difficult day, after trying to figure out if we're going to still have our homes, after dealing with crime, after dealing with all the difficulties we endure," shouted Adams.
"We sat in this park, in a serene environment, and sat on those rocks. Some of us courted our first love in our life, merely by sitting here. We couldn't afford a Broadway play. But we had the pleasure of seeing these birds swim."
Other speakers included choreographer Cynthia King, Friends of Animals director Edita Birnkrant, New York City Council Member Letitia James, screenwriter Eve Pomerance, New Jersey state director for The Humane Society of the United States Kathleen Schatzmann, and a young animal lover, who gave a speech he wrote about his feelings toward the planned slaughter.
"I want to thank you all for coming," young Orlando said, "and I hope we all agree that killing the geese is plain cruel."
After the speeches the crowd, linked hand-in-hand, did a walk around the lake and chanted, "All we are saying, is give geese a chance."
"I love our wildlife," said Patty Acjamine, a frequent visitor to Prospect Park. "To look at the birds one day and come the next day to find out they've all been gassed is horrifying."
The Prospect Park Alliance is working with HSUS, Brooklyn College and other groups to find alternative ways to keep the park geese population to a manageable size, including by “oiling” the eggs to prevent them from hatching, making a rule against feeding the geese and bringing in border collies to scare geese away. But the contract between the city and the USDA for the gassing of park geese expires June 30, and with the park goose population on the rise it is very possible that the city may opt to exterminate them again.
"We want to see policies in our city where we protect wildlife, not target and slaughter them needlessly and ineffectively," said Friends of Animals director Edita Birnkrant. There's a lot of violence, and grief, and destruction going on all around the world none of us have control over, but we do have control over whether or not we kill our urban wildlife."
"We have a choice of picking compassion, tolerance and respect over killing and destruction, and that's really kind of the message," said Birnkrant. "This is a message of promoting peace."