Government officials have a plan to wipe out two-thirds of the Canada geese in New York state as well as hundreds of thousands more of the birds in the eastern U.S., according to a report. City, state and federal agencies want to trim the state’s goose population to 85,000, down from an estimated 250,000, according to a copy of the plan obtained by The New York Times.
Some experts believe New York City’s current goose population is about five times as big as it should be.
The plan was developed after Canada geese disabled a US Airways jet in 2009, forcing it to ditch in the Hudson River.
The culling of New York City’s flocks began after that incident. More than 1,200 city geese were trapped and exterminated last year.
Authorities want to expand the effort to 17 states on the eastern seaboard, where the geese population would be cut nearly in half, according to the report. There are now about 1 million resident Canada geese living in the so-called Atlantic Flyway. Officials want to reduce that number to 650,000.
The executive director of New York City Audubon, Glenn Phillips, called the plan “a little extreme,” but said it was also clear some action needs to be taken to address growth of the geese population.
“It’s not clear that there are really five times as many Canada geese as there should be,” he told The Times.
Many tens of thousands of the birds now live in the city and its suburbs year round, rather than pass through on migratory patterns their ancestors once followed.
Experts believe many are the descendants of Canada geese that were once stocked by state wildlife agencies and private clubs for hunting. The species’ natural nesting area is north of the 48th parallel, which passes through southern Canada and some of the northernmost points in the contiguous United States.
Today, with hunting restricted in cities and suburbs, there are few predators to thin the geese population.