Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Kill the Geese?

Posted by lisagbrown on January 17, 2009


As you have no doubt heard by now, an airplane bound from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to North Carolina struck a flock of geese and was forced to make crash landing into the Hudson River on Thursday, January 15th. Thankfully, all 155 people aboard survived, to the credit of the skilled pilot and flight crew.

Unfortunately, the birds may not come out of this as unharmed as the passengers. At least a few of the birds died when they struck the aircraft, and now there are cries for ALL the Canadian geese around the airport to be killed in order to ensure the safety of air travelers. In today’s New York Post, this perspective is abundantly clear:

“Round them up – and get rid of them!” Or even kill them if you like. That’s the sure answer to eliminating the potentially deadly Canada geese that threaten air travel around New York, says wildlife biologist Steve Garber, who once ran the wildlife-mitigation program at Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark airports.

However, as the Post mentions later in the article (much to it’s own chagrin), Canadian geese, along with other migratory birds, are protected by state, federal AND international laws. That’s a whole lotta laws — laws that were put in place for a good reason. You see, migratory birds impact the habitats of multiple environments, and the loss of their piece of the environmental puzzle can have a detrimental effect on each of these many ecosystems. So before the Post encourages its readers to pull out their guns and have a hunting party on a protected species, they may want to check out the other methods that have, thus far, been working quite well; methods like: making airport environs less hospitable to certain bird species; moving standing bodies of water farther away from airports to encourage the birds to go elsewhere; or utilizing unappealing sights, sounds or smells that would drive the birds away.

I am entirely sympathetic to the people who experienced this terrible ordeal, and I certainly believe that aviation and wildlife experts need to take a closer look at how birds and aircraft can coexist more safely. However, lest we forget, WE are the ones invading THEIR airspace. These birds are not fiends (as the Post describes them), nor do they intend to hurt anyone. They do not wish to fly into the engine of an aircraft and die. They simply wish to get where they are going as safely and quickly as possible … not unlike we do.


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