Prospect Park’s administrator–under whose nose the city and federal government culled Prospect Park’s beloved goose population, in the dark of early morning, without public notice, in early July–is trying to make amends.
This afternoon, the Prospect Park Alliance, a nonprofit that operates Prospect Park on behalf of the Parks Department and of which administrator Tupper Thomas is president, sent out a press release announcing the first meeting of the Prospect Park Wildlife Management Advisory Committee. Its members include a couple of vocal opponents of the July culling, including New York City Audubon, as well as institutional players like the Parks Department and Councilman Brad Lander.
The Committee seeks, in the announcement’s words, to “recommend a Canada goose management plan for Prospect Park that is scientifically sound, humane, practical, and transparent to the community. It is the Park’s hope that this plan would help maintain the goose population at acceptable levels to facilitate cleaner shorelines and water, and to support a diverse array of waterfowl within Prospect Park’s 585 acres.”
Glenn Phillips, the executive director of New York City Audubon, attended the Monday meeting. He said that while the panel will have little impact on citywide efforts to eliminate geese–and thereby protect airplanes from bird strikes–the panel may well facilitate better habitat management, which, in turn, may prevent future culls.
“I think it’s clear that this panel is dealing with how Prospect Park manages its wildlife and will have probably little impact on citywide efforts,” Mr. Phillips said. “So, our goal is to prevent occurrences of Canada goose culls in Prospect Park by creating an environment in Prospect Park which supports a small population of Canada geese.”
What does that mean in practice?
“It may mean treating eggs, modifying habitat to make it less appealing to Canada geese,” Mr. Phillips said. “It may mean a longer-term effort to replace turf in Prospect Park with grasses less palatable to Canada geese. It may mean some modification of the shoreline. Canada geese like to be able to walk from shortly mowed lawn directly into the water. That’s heaven for a Canada goose. The less of that you can have in a park, the better. In the mix, might also be looking at places in the park that are open for off-leash dog activity. They may want to switch, because where there’s off-leash dog activity, there’s less Canada goose activity.”
“The most important thing that’s going to need to change is people are going to have to stop feeding waterfowl,” Mr. Phillips said. “It’s bad for the lake, it’s bad for the birds, and it sets Prospect Park up for future lethal culls. I have a 6 year old myself and the temptation is great. But I if really care about those geese, I need to stop feeding them.”
On the flip side, fewer Canada geese may mean increased habitat for pied-billed grebe, a species that used to frequently nest in Prospect Park, but is now considered a threatened New York State species.
The full release is below.
Brooklyn, NY – The newly convened Wildlife Management Advisory Committee for Prospect Park held its first meeting this week. Members of the Committee (see below for list of organizations) represent important stakeholders in the community, as well as professionals involved with animal welfare, education, science and urban park management. Prospect Park will benefit from the extensive knowledge and experience these organizations and individuals have in urban wildlife management.
The first goal for the Committee is to recommend a Canada goose management plan for Prospect Park that is scientifically sound, humane, practical, and transparent to the community. It is the Park’s hope that this plan would help maintain the goose population at acceptable levels to facilitate cleaner shorelines and water, and to support a diverse array of waterfowl within Prospect Park’s 585 acres.
Prospect Park was one of the sites where Canada Geese were culled earlier this year by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of an agreement between the USDA, the City of New York and the Port Authority of NY & NJ. The agreement gives the USDA permission to employ Canada Geese mitigation measures at sites selected by the New York City Airports Wildlife Hazard Management Steering Committee.
By creating and implementing a Canada goose management plan, we aim to keep the population of Canada geese in Prospect Park low enough to avoid any future intervention by federal agencies. Moreover, after initially focusing on Canada goose management, Prospect Park’s Wildlife Management Advisory Committee will make recommendations on a variety of wildlife-related issues affecting the Park. The expectation is that the Committee can help create a wildlife management plan that is a model for Prospect Park and other parks throughout New York City and beyond.
The Wildlife Management Advisory Committee is expected to make its initial recommendations to Prospect Park later this fall. The Park will schedule a date before the end of the year to present the Committee’s findings to the public and invite community feedback.
Prospect Park Wildlife Management Advisory Committee
Organizations represented at September, 2010 meeting:
· Audubon New York
· Brooklyn Bird Club
· Brooklyn College
· New York City Council Member Brad Lander
· Humane Society of the United States
· New York City Audubon
· Prospect Park Community Committee
· Prospect Park and Prospect Park Alliance
· New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, including the Dept.’s Urban Park Rangers and Natural Resources Group.
Unable to attend initial Committee meeting but being consulted/future attendance expected:
· Geese Peace
· New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
For more information on Prospect Park events, programs, membership and volunteering,
call the Park Hotline at (718) 965-8999 or visit www.prospectpark.org
Dial 311 for all Parks & Recreation information
In partnership with the City of New York and the community, the Prospect Park Alliance
restores, develops, and operates Prospect Park for the enjoyment of all by caring for the
natural environment, preserving historic design, and serving the public through facilities
and programs. Prospect Park’s 585 acres of meadows, waterfalls, forest, lakes,
and athletic facilities comprise a masterwork of urban green space.
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