In the wake of the recent gassing of Prospect Park’s popular goose population—one that appalled local goose-lovers and even prompted a protest outside the mayor’s Upper East Side mansion—the Central Park Conservancy is quietly continuing its considerably more humane geese expulsion method.
Starting in late August, when molting season ends, a Conservancy contractor called Geese Relief will unleash a border collie to chase off some of the Canada geese that call Central Park home, and, to some park-goers’ consternation, litter the greensward with droppings.
“It’s very humane and we take great care to keep the geese safe throughout the process,” said Kari Wethington, a spokesperson for the conservancy, which runs the park on behalf of the city Parks Department, via email. “The contractor visits throughout the year (various days and times of day), concentrating on the lawns and water bodies the geese instinctually return to for breeding, and moves them from the Park without harming them.”
The Conservancy has used border collies to chase away geese since 2007, and estimates the program has reduced the goose population by between 40 and 50 percent.
Unlike the Prospect Park geese gassing, this program also meets with the (somewhat tepid) approval of the Humane Society of New York.
“We’re all for humane procedures whenever possible,” said Sandra DeFeo, the society’s co-executive director. “It’s definitely better than trapping them and euthanizing them, especially gassing them.”
The July killing of the nearly 400 geese in Prospect Park was part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture and New York City and state plan to reduce the population of geese near New York City airports, following the goose-strike that prompted the emergency landing of a U.S. Airways flight last year. According to The New York Times, the plan would reduce the number of geese in New York City from between 20,000 and 25,000 to about 4,000.
Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the USDA, said that while the agency also uses dogs to chase away geese, it generally doesn’t do so near airports, and the method is not always effective, since the geese sometimes return to their original location.
“[The USDA] does use a full range of integrated methods, from no-feeding policies, egg and nest treatment, harassment, habitat modification and border collies would be a method of dispersing through harassment,” Ms. Bannerman said.