NEW YORK, NY—On 79th street, opposite New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s townhouse, over 50 people stood chanting behind a police line: “The blood; the blood; the blood is on your hands!” The blood they lamented was that of geese.
Since the January 2009 plane crash in which Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger landed his plane safely on the Hudson River after colliding with a gaggle of geese, which destroyed the plane’s engine, the city and geese have not been the best of friends. Legislation, approved by Bloomberg authorized the United States Department of Agriculture to remove all geese from within five radial miles of airports. Rather than move the geese elsewhere, the city has gone the route of extermination—or as one protestor put it, “gassing geese to death.”
This protestor, Wayne Johnson, whose business card lists him as a psychotherapist and who says he has been a member of animal rights groups for over 20 years, leant in conspiratorially as he explained the situation.
Under the cover of night, Johnson says, the USDA, which works in tandem with the city, uses bread to lure geese toward trucks that contain gas—“the same elements that were used in the World War II gas chambers.” Last year, nearly two thousand geese met death in the trucks.
This entrapment is even more unfair because from early June through mid-July, geese moult, meaning that last year’s feathers are shed and replaced with new ones. During this period, geese are unable to fly.
The tales of these late-night animal-nappings leave me far less elated than “The Ugly Duckling”, the only other story I know of that centers on birds. But I agree with Bloomberg on the simple principle that it is better to have fewer birds in the sky than to have a plane crash into the river, and it seems those are the options being weighed.
But Johnson—who stood among a ragtag crew, waving hand-made posters—had a simple explanation for why relocation, the main alternative to the gassings, hasn’t taken hold: “People don’t like their poop,” he said. “Poop has become a capital crime.”
Elyssa A.L. Spitzer ’12, a Crimson news writer and blog executive, is a social studies concentrator in Currier House.