The overpopulation of geese in New York City is going to help those in need in Pennsylvania this summer, according to a spokesman for the New York Department of Environmental Protection.
Last summer, 1,676 Canada geese were slaughtered in an effort to control the city's goose population and improve aviation safety, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. But this year, instead of being sent to landfills, the geese will be transported to Pennsylvania and used to feed the hungry there, DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov said.
The USDA reached out to Pennsylvania on the city's behalf since New York state does not currently have a system in place to donate slaughtered geese to shelters, whereas Pennsylvania does. "It's something the city had always wanted to do, but there wasn't a process in place in New York," Sklerov said. "We're hopeful that by next year we should be able to feed people in New York."
For this year, the city will cover the cost of transporting the geese to Pennsylvania, where they will be processed and distributed to food banks, shelters, and other places that feed those in need, according to Sklerov.
The USDA started to control the geese population in New York three years ago after geese got into the engines of US Airways flight 1549, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing into the Hudson River.
"The city's main priority is the protection of the flying public, so if there are large pockets of geese near airports we will take the same steps as previously, but if we can use the geese for those in need, we thought it would be worthwhile to do so," Sklerov said.
Meanwhile, animal rights activists still oppose killing geese to control the population. In a statement, the ASPCA said, "The ASPCA strongly recommends a combination of non-lethal alternatives in order to prevent circumstances that call for the elimination of large populations of Canada geese." They did not comment specifically on the new plan to donate the geese to those in need.
According to the DEP, the USDA is conducting site surveys to determine where the geese are and how many there are around New York City this season.