United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services
Summary: New York City Canada Goose Removals in 2011
Prepared by: Ryan Collins and Lee Humberg Wildlife Biologists USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services August 17, 2011
JUSTIFICATION The Metropolitan New York City region has an estimated population of 20,000 – 25,000 resident Canada geese. This population density is approximately five times the amount that most people would find socially acceptable (B. Swift, NYS DEC, Bureau of Wildlife, pers. comm.). The increasing abundance of these 8-10 pound flocking birds in urban and suburban landscapes has resulted in a significant aviation safety hazard for the flying public and military aircraft. Based on the current population size of resident Canada geese, efforts to reduce the number of resident geese in metropolitan New York City (NYC) were implemented to protect aviation safety, water supplies from fecal contamination, public and private property from damage to turf and ornamental plantings, loss of land use due to excessive fecal droppings, and against unintended consequences of hazing programs (e.g. displacing geese to areas that historically haven’t had geese abundance issues). The New York City Wildlife Hazard Steering Committee decided to reduce aviation strike hazards by decreasing the local population of resident Canada geese, to the extent possible, living within 7 miles of John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport to protect aviation and other resources. The Federal Aviation Administration and United States Air Force have established a zero-tolerance policy for Canada geese on or near airports due to the high probability of aircraft damage and reduced public safety. The Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B provides guidance to airports for managing hazardous wildlife attractants near airports. An analysis of data from the FAA Wildlife Strike Database, estimated that 81% of 1,238 reported Canada goose strikes nationwide from 1990 – 2009 were from resident non-migrating geese (R. Dolbeer, USDA WS, National Wildlife Research Center, unpublished data). OBJECTIVE To increase aviation safety by reducing the risk of Canada goose strikes related to the abundance of resident Canada geese populations at public parks, ball fields and other man-made and natural habitats within 7 miles of John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport. BENEFITS EXPECTED Decreasing the resident Canada goose population would reduce the year-round risk these birds pose to aviation safety. While migrating birds temporarily increase the risk to aviation safety, the reduction of resident Canada geese is a step in reducing the abundance of larger-bodied birds that cause the most damaging strikes to aircraft. Moreover, Canada Geese are the second most hazardous bird for aircraft to strike (FAA 2007).
Additional benefits of removing over-abundant Canada geese include: reduced fecal droppings and required costs of clean up, decreased water contamination from fecal pollution, decreased excessive grazing on turf grass and plantings and decreased conflict with recreational users of park properties. Reducing Canada goose populations near ecological restoration sites can minimize the risk and extent of damage to newly planted vegetation (e.g. salt marsh restoration). All Canada geese captured and removed in 2011 were transported to commercial poultry processing facilities to be donated to food charities, bringing food to people in need. METHODS Site Evaluations – In early June 2011 Wildlife Services (WS) conducted site evaluations at 105 properties in NYC to determine which sites needed geese removed (Table 1). Of the 105 surveyed sites, 16 were selected for goose removal. WS specialists documented the number of Canada geese and/or damage (fecal droppings, turf damage) present at each site. Risk to local aircraft movements was also documented. Additionally, efforts to reduce damage caused by Canada geese (e.g., presence of no feeding wildlife signage) were documented. Properties within 5 miles of the three airports were considered eligible for resident Canada Goose damage abatement if there were 10 or more geese on the property, while properties within 5-7 miles of the three airports were considered eligible if there were 20 or more geese on the property. The list of sites eligible for goose removal were reviewed and confirmed with New York City government and other property owners. Due to absence of geese or inability to access the geese on the day of removal at 5 sites, geese were only removed from 11 sites (Table 2). Removal - Canada geese were captured during the summer molt period (when the birds were unable to fly) utilizing standard goose round-up procedures. The summer molt period is approximately June 15 to July 15 each year. If geese were in the water, then biologists and specialists used kayaks or motor boats to guide the geese onto shore and into corrals. The captured geese were placed alive into commercial turkey crates and transported to a commercial poultry processing facility. Prior to transport any identification markers (e.g. neck collars or tarsal bands) were removed from the geese for reporting and historical location data analysis. RESULTS Removals were conducted between June 27 and July 7, 2011. WS removed 575 of the 654 Canada geese observed at 11 New York City owned properties (Table 2). Eight of the 575 geese were marked with either a tarsal band or neck collar. Of the eight marked geese, 3 (38%) were removed at sites 1-7 miles from their original marking site and 5 (62%) were removed at sites greater than 7 miles from their original marking site (Table 3). Three birds were marked at locations greater than 100 miles from their removal sites.
A total of 244 geese were removed from Marine Park Golf Course (Gerritson Creek), Alley Pond Park and Pennsylvania-Fountain Avenue Landfill Complex (Hendrix Creek) where ecological restoration projects have been conducted over the past several years at a cost of $6.2 million, $20 million and $1.3 million, respectively (Table 4). All geese removed from NYC were transported to a commercial poultry processor. An estimated 424 pounds of goose meat from New York City properties were made available to and distributed by food charities. Meat samples were tested by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and deemed acceptable for human consumption. This is consistent with State of New York testing in which resident Canada geese from urban areas have been tested since 1996 and no human health issues have been identified. SUMMARY/DISCUSSION The location and habitat components of removal sites in 2009-2010 provided a great amount of information as to the preferred molting sites of resident Canada geese in New York City. Based on the information gathered during the 2009-2010 goose removals WS was able to identify and survey 107 sites in NYC in 2011, an increase of 48 sites from 2010. The inclusion of sites within 7 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport also aided in the identification of additional survey and capture sites. Prior to molting, Canada geese will often move temporarily to locations where food and water are accessible without flying. The surveyed sites with no geese present during site evaluations were more than likely sites where geese feed and loaf at other times of the year, but were absent of geese at the time of site evaluations due to lack of suitable molting habitat. The knowledge gained from identifying preferred molting sites in NYC will allow for more efficient future Canada goose management. A total of 575 resident Canada geese were removed from NYC in 2011, a decrease of 934 geese from 2010. There were 15 capture sites that were utilized in either 2009 or 2010 that were surveyed and found to have none or so few geese that removals were not warranted in 2011. Of the nine sites used in both 2010 and 2011, a total of 876 geese were observed on the day of capture in 2010 and only 543 observed in 2011, a 38% decrease in total number of geese observed on the date of capture at those sites. Overall, the number of resident Canada geese surveyed and captured in 2011 has decreased greatly from 2009 and 2010. The reduced numbers of resident Canada geese in NYC supports the effectiveness of multiple years of Canada goose removals on population reduction. Band and collar recovery data was analyzed to determine the distance geese had traveled from their banding location to the removal site. Of the 8 banded geese captured, 3 were banded less than 5 miles from their removal site. Two had been banded at areas 20 to 99 miles away, and 3 were captured greater than 100 miles from their original banding site.
This data supports the need for both localized Canada goose population management as well as regional population management. Overabundant Canada goose populations can significantly impact native habitats. Newly created or restored habitats are especially sensitive to grazing from waterfowl because the vegetation has not established a strong root foundation. The removal of 454 geese from three sites helped to protect 42 acres of recently restored wetland habitat which cost $27.5 million. The successful establishment of these habitats is critical to absorbing storm water runoff and reducing non-point source pollution, which is beneficial to human interests, other wildlife species and the overall health of the ecosystem. The benefits of reducing the overabundant resident Canada goose population are numerous. Improving safety to the aviation industry and its customers is paramount, but the added value of reducing damage to New York City’s public properties and increasing environmental health should be acknowledged. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Continue Canada goose removals at New York City properties within 7 miles of local airports. This will further reduce the risk of a strike to aircraft by protecting against movement of Canada geese throughout New York City. 2. Work with neighboring landowners to expand removal efforts, especially large property owners such as state and federal entities. 3. At times of the year outside the molting period or in locations where roundups are not conducive consider utilizing additional capture techniques to increase the number of sites where overabundant geese that pose an aviation hazard can be captured. 4. Continue to educate residents about the importance of not feeding wildlife and the benefits of having a manageable population of wildlife that will not damage property and resources but retain its aesthetic value to wildlife watchers and citizens. 5. Increase enforcement of existing no-feeding policies to deter attracting geese to the airports’ proximity. 6. Identify New York poultry processors and food charities to make use of the harvested food resource locally.
Table 1. Properties in New York City surveyed for Canada geese presence during June, 2011. Property Name Borough Date Surveyed Alice Austin Park Staten Island 6/7/2011 Alley Pond Park Queens 6/14/2011 Allison Pond Park Staten Island 6/7/2011 Arden Wood Park Staten Island 6/9/2011 Baisley park Queens 6/13/2011 Barretto Point Park Bronx 6/15/2011 Battery Park Manhattan 6/15/2011 Bay Water Park Queens 6/13/2011
Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park Bloomingdale Park Blue Heron Park Nature Center Bowne Park Bradys Pond Park Brant Point Wildlife Sanctuary Broad Channel Park Brooklyn Bridge Park Brookville Park Bunker Pond Park Calvert Vaux Park Canarsie Pier Captain Tilly Park Cedar Grove Park Central Park Clay Pit Ponds State Park Clearview Golf Course Clove Lake Park College Point Park/Old Flushing Airport Conference House Park Co‐op City Park Crescent Beach Park Crocheron Park Cromwell Recreation Center Crotona Park Dobus Point Wildlife Sanctuary Douglaston Park Golf Course Dyker Beach Golf Course East River State Park Ebis Pond Park Bronx Staten Island Staten Island Queens Staten Island Queens Queens Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Brooklyn Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Manhattan Staten Island Queens Staten Island Queens Staten Island Bronx Staten Island Queens Staten Island Bronx Queens Queens Brooklyn Brooklyn Staten Island 6/14/2011 6/9/2011 6/8/2011 6/14/2011 6/8/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/16/2011 6/13/2011 6/8/2011 6/16/2011 6/16/2011 6/13/2011 6/8/2011 6/15/2011 6/9/2011 6/14/2011 6/7/2011 6/14/2011 6/8/2011 6/14/2011 6/8/2011 6/14/2011 6/7/2011 6/15/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/16/2011 6/16/2011 6/7/2011
Faber Pool & Park FDR Boardwalk & Beach Ferry Point Park Floyd Bennett Field Flushing Meadows Corona Park Forest Grove Park Forest Park and Golf Course Fort Totten Fort Tryon Park Fresh Kill Landfill Fulton Ferry State Park Gantry Plaza State Park Goethals Pond Complex Great Kill Park (NPS) Greenbelt Native Plant Center Hudson River Park Huguenot Pond Park Hybrid Oaks Woods Park Idlewild Park Inwood Hill Park Jacob Riis Park (NPS) Jamaica Bay Park Kingdom Pond Park Kingfisher Pond Park Kissena Park and Golf Course La Tourette Golf Course Last Chance Pond Park Lemon Creek Park Leon S Kaiser Park Manhattan Beach Park Marine Park and Golf Course Marine Park Mariners Marsh Park Meredith Woods Morningside Park North Shore Esplanade O' Donohue Park Ocean Beeze Park Pelham Bay Park Pennsylvania and Fountain Ave Landfills (NPS) Powell's Cove Park
Staten Island Staten Island Bronx Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Queens Queens Manhattan Staten Island Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Staten Island Staten Island Manhattan Staten Island Staten Island Queens Manhattan Queens Queens Staten Island Staten Island Queens Staten Island Staten Island Staten Island Brooklyn Brooklyn Brooklyn Queens Staten Island Staten Island Manhattan Staten Island Queens Staten Island Bronx Brooklyn Queens
6/7/2011 6/8/2011 6/14/2011 6/16/2011 6/13/2011 6/7/2011 6/13/2011 6/21/2011 6/15/2011 6/7/2011 6/16/2011 6/14/2011 6/7/2011 6/8/2011 6/9/2011 6/16/2011 6/9/2011 6/9/2011 6/13/2011 6/15/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/8/2011 6/9/2011 6/15/2011 6/7/2011 6/8/2011 6/8/2011 6/16/2011 6/16/2011 6/16/2011 6/13/2011 6/7/2011 6/7/2011 6/15/2011 6/7/2011 6/13/2011 6/8/2011 6/14/2011 6/16/2011 6/14/2011
Prospect Park Pugsley Creek Park Randall's/Wards Island Rikers Island River Bank State Park Riverdale Park Riverside Park Robert F Wagner Jr Park Roberto Clemente State Park Rockaway Beach State Park Roy Wilkins Park Rulers Bar Hassock (NPS) Schmul Park Silver Lake Park & Golf Course Snug Harbor Cultural Center Soundview Park South Shore Golf Course Springfield Park Staten Island Industrial Park Tottenville Shore Park Udall's Cove Valentino Pier Van Cortlandt Park & Golf Course Von Briesen Park Willowbrook Park Wolfes Pond Park
Brooklyn Bronx Manhattan Queens Manhattan Bronx Manhattan Manhattan Bronx Queens Queens Queens Staten Island Staten Island Staten Island Bronx Staten Island Queens Staten Island Staten Island Queens Brooklyn Bronx Staten Island Staten Island Staten Island
6/21/2011 6/14/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/15/2011 6/15/2011 6/15/2011 6/15/2011 6/15/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/13/2011 6/7/2011 6/7/2011 6/7/2011 6/14/2011 6/9/2011 6/13/2011 6/9/2011 6/9/2011 6/14/2011 6/16/2011 6/15/2011 6/7/2011 6/7/2011 6/8/2011
Table 2. Number of Canada geese observed and removed from New York City owned properties during June and July, 2011.
Date Site Number of CAGO Observed Number of CAGO Captured
06/27/11 06/27/11 06/28/11 06/28/11 06/28/11 06/28/11 06/28/11 06/29/11 06/29/11 07/01/11 07/06/11 07/07/11 07/07/11 Totals
Alley Pond Park Fort Totten Flushing Meadows Park Pelham Bay Park Van Cortlandt Golf Course Inwood Hill Park Marine Park Golf Course Clove Lake Park Willowbrook Park Rikers Island Pennsylvania & Fountain Ave. Inwood Hill Park (revisit) Pelham Bay Park (revisit)
91 30 11 18 26 32 74 42 69 63 120 25 53
79 30 7 15 26 32 73 37 69 55 92* 10 50
*A total of 102 were captured and 10 were released due to space limitations for transport.
Table 3. Distance between original banding site and final removal site of Canada geese removed from New York City in June and July, 2011.
Distance Between Removal Site and Banding Site (miles) 0 (Same Location) 1-7 >7 Total Number of Marked Canada Geese Removed 0 3 5 8
Table 4. Active ecological restoration sites in New York City at the same location or near Canada goose removal sites in June and July, 2011.
Restoration Site Gerritson Creek Alley Pond Park Hendrix Creek Total Habitat Restored Tidal Wetlands and Grasslands Tidal Wetlands, Coastal Grasslands and Shrublands Tidal Wetlands, Coastal Grasslands and Shrublands Acres 16 16 10 42 Cost (millions) $6.2 $20.0 $1.3 $27.5
LITERATURE CITED Federal Aviation Administration. 2007. Advisory Circular: Hazardous wildlife attractants on or near airports. AC No. 150/5200-33b