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Slaughter of Geese Won't Fly With Some New Yorkers

PHOTO: The slaughtering of Canada Geese in New York City, Westchester County, and elsewhere continues to bring protests.
August 1. 2012
PHOTO: The slaughtering of Canada Geese in New York City, Westchester County, and elsewhere continues to bring protests.

NEW YORK - The slaughter of Canada geese in New York City, Westchester County and elsewhere continues to bring protests from critics who say they agree that the danger the birds pose to airliners is real, but killing the geese is not the answer.

After the 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson," in which a goose sucked into the engine of a U.S. Airways jet forced it to land in the icy river, New York took what Humane Society of the United States state director Brian Shapiro calls a "shoot first, think later" approach.

"If you're just going to slaughter the birds, more are going to come in, more migratory birds are going to come in."

Under a contract with the city, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been rounding up the birds, hauling them upstate to a slaughterhouse and dumping the bodies in a landfill. This year, the city says the slaughtered birds will be processed in Pennsylvania and the meat distributed to food banks there.

Shapiro says there are plenty of proven, non-lethal solutions. He wants New York City to not renew its contract with the USDA and explore alternatives to killing.

"After the 'Miracle on the Hudson,' it seemed like the first step was (to) go to a lethal response, as opposed to putting in place a long-term program that's actually going to make the environment less attractive to the geese."

Shapiro lists some tactics he says have been employed effectively in other areas of the nation.

"Eggs can be addled, which means you apply a layer of oil to the eggs. And there is using dogs to scare away the birds. Laser, like laser lights, can be used to frighten away the animals."

The Agriculture Department says removing the geese will improve public safety "without harm to the species as a whole."

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY