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Thank you for exterminating the Prospect Park geese!

The New York Times reports that wildlife biologists working with the federal Agriculture Department last week gassed to death nearly 400 geese in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. 

The reason for the extermination was to cull the large geese population which threaten airplane flights over the city. Prospect Park is near to both JFK and La Guardia airports. “The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety,” said Carol Bannerman, spokeswowan.

The Times notes that the reduction in geese has increased since some of them flew into a US Airways flight in January 2009, which forced an emergency landing in the middle of the Hudson River. Indeed, I recall that, at that time, Greg Pollowitz  wrote an interesting post in the National Review’s “Planet Gore” blog on how New York City’s lack of control over the geese population, due to environmental concerns, might have contributed to the “Miracle on the Hudson” incident. In particular, Pollowitz noted a 2004 bill sponsored by New York Senator Charles Schumer that provided funding to an organization called “Geesepeace” in order to facilitate a non-lethal “solution” to the excessive number of geese.

According to the Times, many Brooklyn residents were “mortified” to learn of the mass euthanasia of the geese. “It’s a horrible end,” said Anne-Katrin Titze. Seth Kaplan, who had recently distributed a video of the goslings, was said to be “crushed”.

But for anyone who values human life, this issue is a no-brainer: obviously people come before geese. Yet, for some, it’s not so straightforward. In the New York Observer, Dana Rubenstin writes:

The geese culling frenzy stems, of course, from the January 15 crash landing of a U.S. Airways flight in the Hudson River after geese were sucked into the plane's engines. Remember? This was the Miracle on the Hudson, in which no one died. According to the same AP article, which cited FAA stats, between 1990 and 2008, there were just 11 civilian deaths resulting from about 1,200 bird-plane collisions in the U.S., but the guilty birds were "not necessarily geese." Forgive us for saying so, but this strikes us as overkill.

No, I don’t forgive you. Saying that “no one died” in the Hudson landing is flippant: an entire plane full of people came very close to dying. And referring to “just 11” deaths ignores the fact that a single human life is worth far more than any animal.

In a similarly humanity-demeaning way, a post on “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn” called the killing of geese “horrific”, and added: “The thought of these geese being rounded up holocaust style in our park is just disgusting.” No, what’s truly disgusting is claiming that the extermination of geese is on par with the killing of millions of people.

The Agricultural Department and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation should be congratulated for putting people first.

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