Thursday, June 27, 2013. New York City – On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, GooseWatch NYC and In Defense of Animals had a press conference and rally at Merchant’s Gate (Columbus Circle) Central Park to speak out against the killing of Canada geese in New York City.
Speakers included David Karopkin, Founder and Director of GooseWatch NYC; Ken Paskar, President of Friends of La Guardia Airport and former lead safety representative for the FAA Safety Team; Anja Heister, M.S. Biologist and Director of the Wild and Free-Habitats Campaign; Brian Shapiro, NY State Director of The Humane Society of the United States; Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals; Suzanne Soehner, resident of the Inwood Hill Park community and Mary Beth Purdy Artz, NYC Wildlife Advocate.
In 2012, more than 1,000 Canada geese were killed. 751 of them were killed at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.
“(Democrat) Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has taken responsibility for the roundup and mass slaughter of innocent animals at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Canada geese which harmed no one and brought pleasure to many. The New York City Canada goose operations have been carried out without public approval or transparency. The justifications given by the USDA and Sen. Gillibrand, that New York City’s geese pose a threat to aircraft, have been widely discredited by aviation experts. Assurances that USDA goose slaughters are conducted humanely have been contested by animal advocacy organizations nationwide. With this decision, Sen. Gillibrand has ignored our plea to reconsider plans for a mass slaughter, and turned a blind eye toward New Yorkers who love animals and care about the preservation of wildlife,” said David Karopkin, Founder and Director of GooseWatch NYC.
On Wednesday, June 19, some volunteers witnessed the roudup of about a dozen Canada geese and goslings by The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Inwood Hill Park, which is located in Manhattan, NYC.
“I’m in tears,” Inwood resident Suzanne Soehner said. Soehner witnessed a similar roundup two years ago while walking her dog, and on Wednesday morning she rushed to the park with her camera when she was alerted that a roundup was taking place.
The NY Daily News reports that, “United States Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Carol Bannerman declined to provide an exact number of victims of Wednesday’s killing, but reiterated that Inwood Hill Park is within the seven-mile bird-free zone that officials believe is necessary to protect planes.”
Juan Cortez, who visits the Inwood Hill Park told Manhattan Times News, “My son (Xavier, 5) loves them. We take him to the rocks at the edge of the salt marsh to see them.”
Ken Paskar said, “The experts and the data do not support the killing of Canada geese as a solution to our area bird strike problems. Friends of La Guardia Airport’s first priority is safety, and we oppose the slaughtering of Canada geese in the name of air safety, because the real threat to air travel does not come from the geese, but from the City of New York. The City’s solid waste transfer stations, both in Queens and in Manhattan, are bird magnets. They will attract gulls, blackbirds, European starlings, turkey vultures, and other species attracted to the sights and smells of the garbage at these facilities. The real solution is for the City to make the area around airports unattractive to birds, and to use humane methods to scare and displace the ones that are already there.”
David Karopkin, Founder and Director of GooseWatch NYC.
David Karopkin founded GooseWatch NYC to call attention to New York City’s policy of killing Canada geese in public parks and works to protect urban wildlife.
David is a second year student at Brooklyn Law School and serves as Vice Chair for the Student Animal League Defense Fund. David is also currently a student member of the National Lawyers Guild and the Animal Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association.
Ken Paskar, President of Friends of La Guardia Airport and former lead safety representative for the FAA Safety Team.
Ken Paskar is pilot and President of Friends of La Guardia Airport, a not-for-profit organization which fosters safety, commerce and efficient airport and airspace operations at La Guardia Airport and the surrounding NYC Metro area. Mr. Pasker also heads up AvTeam, a New York City based aviation consulting firm. He serves on the membership committee of the Wings Club and the legislative committee for the New York Aviation Management Association. Mr. Pasker also serves as an Airport Support Network Volunteer for the 400,000 member Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association. Previously, Mr. Pasker was the Lead Safety Representative for the FAA Safety Team.
Anja Heister, Director of IDA’s Wild & Free – Habitats Campaign.
She works to protect wild fur-bearing animals, deer, geese and other wildlife who are in conflict with human enterprise. Heister is currently enrolled in an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she is studying wildlife conservation, ethics and policy. Heister is the co-founder and former Executive Director of Footloose Montana, a nonprofit organization working to end recreational and commercial trapping on Montana’s public lands.
Brian Shapiro, NY State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.
He works alongside local law enforcement agencies to builds statewide support for animal protection. Shapiro served for more than a decade as an elected representative and legislator in Ulster County, New York. He also served as the executive director of the Ulster County SPCA, where he bolstered a highly successful humane law division, helped increase adoptions, and expanded the shelter’s spay/neuter program.
Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of Friends of Animals.
Edita works on urban wildlife issues educating and promoting policies of tolerance and co-existence with Canada geese and other animals in New York City and beyond and was instrumental in getting local town officials in Long Island, Westchester and New Jersey to cancel goose kill contracts with the USDA. Since 1957, Friends of Animals has worked on an international, national and local level to gain protection and end abuse of animals, both free-living and domestic.
Suzanne Soehner is a resident of the Inwood Hill Park community.
She witnessed the roundup of Canada geese on two occasions, first in 2011 while she was walking her dogs, and again last week when she was alerted by GooseWatch NYC that a roundup was in progress, and she successfully captured USDA and NYC Parks Enforcement vehicles on camera. Suzanne is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, and licensed acupuncturist.
Mary Beth Purdy Artz, Singer, Actriz and NYC Wildlife Advocate.
She is also an instructor in the conservation field having completed the Conservation Biology program at The Center for Environmental Research and Conservation at Columbia University.
After the slaughter of Prospect Park’s Canada Geese in 2010, she banded with community members and organized “Hands Around the Lake” in Prospect Park in 2011 to voice opposition to the killings of the geese and to demand that the city find humane, non-lethal alternatives to deal with the issue.