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Animal Advocates Protesting Gillibrand's Proposal To Kill Geese Near JFK

May 3, 2012

NEW YORK (CBS New York) -- Animal advocates will be rallying outside U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office on Thursday to protest a bill that would allow authorities to round-up geese from a federal refuge near John F. Kennedy Airport and kill them.

The bill would authorize authorities to remove Canada Geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in June and July when the birds are molting and cannot fly.

But animal advocates strongly oppose the bill, saying killing the birds won't make flying any safer.

"Pilots need to be aware of where the birds are flying in order to avoid them," David Karopkin of GooseWatch NYC told 1010 WINS" John Montone. "Killing birds is never going to solve this problem."

Other animal advocates agree.

"Air safety will only be improved by focusing on deterring geese and other birds from airports through habitat modification, effective land-use planning and radar detection, not by killing Canada geese or any other birds that planes share the skies with," said Edita Birnkrant, New York director of Friends of Animals, said in a statement on the group's website.

But Gillibrand called it a matter of public safety.

"We cannot afford to sit back and wait for a catastrophe to occur before cutting through bureaucratic red tape between federal agencies," Gillibrand said in a statement. "We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk."

Gillibrand proposed the bill last week after bird strikes forced emergency landings of two commercial airliners.

JetBlue Flight 571 had just departed the Westchester County Airport on April 24 when it hit two geese. The pilot declared an emergency and returned safely to the runway.

The week prior, a flight bound for Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport after striking a bird. No one was hurt.

Goose eradication was authorized in New York City after birds were sucked into both engines of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 out of LaGuardia in 2009.

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger safely landed the plane in the Hudson River.

Nearly 1,700 Canada geese were rounded up and killed in New York City in 2010, but animal rights groups say the method isn't working to prevent bird strikes.

"The airplanes are not safe if something this small can take it down," Karopkin said.

Several online initiatives and petitions have been started against the bill by multiple animal rights groups, including GooseWatch NYC, Friends of Animals and In Defense of Animals.

Edita Birnkrant
NY Director Friends of Animals
1841 Broadway, Suite 350
New York, NY 10023
Phone: 212.247.8120
Fax: 212.582.4482
Web site:

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