Unfriendly skies: Forest Lakes, the Miracle on the Hudson, and Canada Geese

cover-gooseSeptember 2, 2010 cover image.

The way that a pilot named Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger saved all 155 onboard his disabled commercial jetliner was the feel-good story of 2009. Locally, however, the "Miracle on the Hudson" helped launch some bad feelings in the Forest Lakes neighborhood.

Since the incident and following a series of Congressional hearings and the release of previously confidential FAA data on bird strikes, thousands of the geese across the country have been rounded up and slaughtered as part of the airline industry's efforts to make flying safer.

But the mass killing has outraged bird lovers and ruffled feathers at Forest Lakes where 90 Canada Geese were rounded up and killed in early July. Some Forest Lakes residents have come forward to say that despite their neighborhood's proximity to the airport, Forest Lakes geese actually pose little risk to planes.

"It's hypocrisy, and it's all about money," says resident Arthur Epp, who lives in a house overlooking a lake where the geese once swam and raised their young.

While federal officials say the geese killing will bolster the safety of the flying public, Epp says there's plenty of data to back up the claim that the airline industry is most concerned with making people think they're safer.

Who is right?

Natural neighborhood

Just two miles from the Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Airport, Forest Lakes is a planned community of 1,400 homes, most on family-friendly cul-de-sacs and with many houses overlooking tranquil bodies of water. Paths for walking and biking wind through the neighborhood to provide nature lovers ample opportunity to commune with wildlife. Until July, the Forest Lakes community included families of Canada Geese who'd parade their young each spring and summer.

cover-goose1A family of Canada Geese at Forest Lakes prior to the round-up and slaughter .

Carol Rasmussen says the lake–- and the geese that lived on it–- were a main attraction when she and her husband purchased their home in 2007.

"We only looked at one house– this one," she says, standing in her kitchen where a picture window offers an ample water view. "We made an offer on the spot."

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and undergoing brutal radiation and chemotherapy that kept her housebound and often alone, Rasmussen, 59, says the geese soon took on a more important role.

"Watching geese have families was a spiritual thing for me," she says. "They were my lifeline."

So when she awoke one morning this past summer and noticed the lake was empty of her feathered friends, her concern quickly turned to outrage when a neighbor informed her that agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture had swept in, rounded the geese into mesh enclosures, and transported them to a slaughterhouse (and turned them into zoo food, according to a USDA official).

The explanation for the extermination came in a May 26 letter to the Forest Lakes Community Association. The Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Airport asks for help with a "critically important safety project," and cautions the neighborhood that failure to comply with the request could lead to "serious injury and death to the flying public."

Given the dire language that might summon images of plane wreckage and bodies strewn over Route 29 and given how close Sully's passengers came to becoming fatalities, it's perhaps not surprising that the Community Association readily agreed.

"We gave it considerable consideration," says Association president David Shifflett in an email to the Hook, "and in the interest of human safety and accident prevention, we approved the request to conduct a humane roundup during the summer molt," a time during June and July in which the geese lose their flight feathers.

Rasmussen and others didn't learn of the letter until much later. They're incensed that the decision to allow the round-up was made without notifying residents, despite the fact that the effort may have required agents to cross private property.

"It was done like a thief in the night," she says. She even began running ads in the Hook and the Daily Progress decrying the killings. And like neighbor Epp, she denies that her neighborhood's geese would pose a safety risk. They aren't the only ones making that claim.

David Feld, spokesperson for a group called Geese Peace, also dispute's the government's slaughter approach.

"It looks like they're solving the problem, but they're not solving it," says Feld. "If they rounded up all the Canada Geese in the whole world, it might reduce the number of strikes by a small fraction compared to everything else."

Feld points to statistics that show that of the 1,299 recorded bird strikes between 1990 and 2008 in Virginia, just three percent involved Canada Geese while nearly a quarter were caused by gulls. Of the incidents involving Canada Geese, several caused "minor damage" to the plane. Other more frequent offenders: starlings and pigeons. Nationally, just one percent of bird strikes are attributed to Canada Geese, although that number could be as high as three percent if one counts in the possibility that they are among the additional two percent of strikes attributed to "unknown" large birds.

At the Charlottesville airport, FAA data shows that of the 24 reported bird strikes since 1990, only one–- in November 1995–- seemed to involve a Canada Goose. In that daytime incident, which occurred under clear skies, a Cessna 152 encountered the large bird during take-off at 200 feet and at an estimated speed of 65 mph. There was no reported damage. And in fact, according to the remarks from the incident, the bird struck was only assumed to be a Canada Goose from the date and location of the strike.

In fact, the FAA agrees that Canada Geese pose no greater risk than any other birds, according to spokesperson Jim Peters.

"We just want to make sure that when aircraft come into any densely populated urban area, they can do it safely," he says.

And at the Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, gulls are certainly a greater culprit, responsible for six of the 24 local bird strikes, including one incident in May 1995 in which a gull struck the left propeller of a Delta Connection BA-31 Jetstream, causing the passenger line to lose some power during take-off. The pilot managed to abort take-off, and there were no injuries.

But Canada Geese can't seem to lose their reputation as airline enemies, and it is true that the Miracle on the Hudson isn't the only time Canada Geese have brought down a plane.

In September 1995, a military plane carrying 24 occupants and taking off near Anchorage, Alaska struck three dozen Canada Geese, according to the website birdstrike.com. At least four birds entered the engines, causing the plane to crash just one mile past the runway, killing everyone on board.

More recently, in October 2007, a flight instructor and his student perished after crashing during a night flight between Minneapolis, Minnesota and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Investigators identified Canada Goose remains in the wreckage.


Anyone following the news back in early 2009 knows "Sully," the dignified, white-haired pilot who managed to ditch the U.S. Airways Airbus he was flying into the Hudson River after a gaggle of Canada Geese collided with both engines causing catastrophic double engine failure.

cover-geese-1549That all 155 people on board survived the crash of Flight 1549 earned Captain Chesley Sullenberger hero status.
PHOTO FLICKR/davidwatts1978/Janis Krums

Terror soon turned to joy as all 155 passengers and crew aboard that morning's Flight 1549 survived. But good news for those passengers and crew was decidedly bad news for Canada Geese, the species eventually ruled responsible for the crash.

No one argues that birds aren't a menace to planes–- or to an airline's budget.

According to the FAA's birdstrike data, there were approximately 112,000 bird strikes reported between 1990 and April 2010, and yet a study posted on the USDA website asserts that the number may represent just one fifth of the actual incidents. The estimated cost in lost airtime and repairs between 1990 and 2008, according to the study, has been placed at anywhere between $95 and $400 million.

Feld dismisses the idea that 80 percent of birdstrikes go unreported–- or that costs could soar that high.

"It's a big lie," he says. "If a plane hit a goose, it was reported. The only ones not reported didn't cause any damage, and the pilot may not have even known. It's common sense."

Still, while gulls and pigeons are statistically more likely to collide with planes, Canada Geese, some aviation experts claim, are among the greatest feathered menaces not only because of their size– they can weigh up to 20 pounds– but because they can fly at high altitudes and in large flocks as they migrate to and from Canada.

But Geese Peace's Feld says it's the Geese's biology that both give them an unfair bad rap and also make them among the easiest wildlife to mitigate–- because they are flightless during the early summer months.

And one big misunderstanding, he says, is the belief that they are all migratory.

In the mid-20th century, ornithologists believed that the Canada Goose, common in America until the early 20th century, had disappeared from this country due to overhunting. But in 1962, to the great excitement of conservationists, a wildlife biologist discovered a flock living on a Minnesota lake kept warm through the winter because of its proximity to a heat-generating power plant. The geese were taken into captivity and bred, then were reintroduced to the American wild where their proliferation makes them one of the great conservation success stories.

As their numbers have soared, so have complaints.

"It's a nightmare for maintenance," says Pete Mazza, golf pro at the Spring Creek golf course in Zion Crossroads, where the geese live year round. "It's not just that they're a nuisance," says Mazza, "it's that their waste can be toxic to the greens."

The director of the Meadowcreek Golf Course at Pen Park shares his frustration with the approximately 100 Canada Geese that live on the course.

"With all the food and water they can consume and no predators, they live in paradise," says Rion Summers, citing the park's proximity to the Rivanna River. The geese, he says, leave an "enormous" quantity of waste, damaging the greens and mucking up shoes.

"Playing golf is difficult enough," says Summers, "without this unpleasantness and potential health risk." Meadowcreek, he says, is currently seeking a license from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to eradicate the geese, which are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, making it illegal to hunt or harass them without a federal permit.

But if some people wish the birds would fly back up north and stay there, that's not going to happen for a simple reason. The geese "imprint" on the location of their birth, a biological process that has led to two different classifications of the geese here in the United States: resident Canada Geese, which nest and remain here in the states, and migratory Canada Geese, which fly more than 1,000 miles to winter in the warmer U.S. before returning to nest in Canada each spring.

"It's not that these Canada Geese decided they weren't going to migrate," says Feld. "They're biologically stuck because we interfered with their migratory patterns. Once they nested here, the goslings biologically had to nest here."

When the Smithsonian Institute undertook scientific analysis of the goose remains in the engines of Flight 1549, the results showed that the offending birds were migratory geese and not members of the resident Canada Goose population living in and around LaGuardia Airport.

cover-geese-sullenberger2"Hero" Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger won't comment on the issue of Canada Geese management.

That, however, didn't stop New York authorities from formulating a plan to slaughter nearly 200,000 geese– many of them resident geese– in the name of airline safety. In one incident similar to the Forest Lakes goose slaughter and timed to coincide with their summer molt, 400 resident Canada Geese were rounded up in Brooklyn's Prospect Park in July. The action by USDA agents involved no community notification and elicited anger from nearby residents and local politicians who vented in various news articles including one posted on thedailybeast.com that asked, "What hath Sully wrought?"

If the famed pilot, who also runs an aviation safety consulting firm, has an opinion on what he hath wrought, he's not saying.

"Captain Sullenberger is not commenting on this issue at this time," says his PR rep.

Is there an answer?

So what are the real risks of Canada Geese to planes?

Local pilot Skip Degan, who often takes aerial photos for this paper, has had two run-ins with birds–- neither involved a Canada Goose. One was a starling he struck while piloting a small plane. "It hit the windshield and left a spot," he recalls. That incident, he says, occurred at a low speed and didn't pose much of a hazard.

The other incident occurred when he piloted a twin-engine plane into a massive turkey vulture. "It cracked the windshield," says Degan, who aborted the flight and landed without further incident.

Degan says he believes the greatest hazard from birds is at altitudes under 2,000 feet– mostly during take-offs and landings– and comes mostly from gulls and blackbirds. He also notes that while birds are a menace, "they're very visible." And he says that in most instances, pilots can avoid collisions if they keep their eyes open and one thing in mind.

"It's the sky," he says. "That's where birds live."

Their lives can cause human casualties. A joint report by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Agriculture puts the total human death toll as a result of wildlife strikes at over 200 worldwide since 1988. And the biggest killer appears to be one of the smallest birds: common starlings.

In 1996, starlings reportedly brought down a plane in the Netherlands, killing 34. Worst of all was an Eastern Air Lines flight that took off from Boston into a flock of starlings in 1960. Sixty-two people died in the ensuing crash.

So what about altering planes so that they're less vulnerable to a strike? In fact, planes have long been engineered to withstand bird strikes. Beginning in the 1950s, scientists have used the "chicken gun" to fire frozen poultry at planes in order to simulate a bird strike and find ways to strengthen the aircraft. Windshields remain one source of vulnerability, as are engines.

And while numerous articles have questioned why there can't be some sort of mesh placed over engines to prevent a bird from entering, Geese Peace's Feld– who is also an engineer– says the wind drag and consequent reduction in both power and fuel efficiency makes that method impractical.

"If it could have been done," says Feld, "it would have been done."

Even if some bird lovers argue that geese have been unfairly targeted, they don't believe Canada Geese or any other birds should be allowed to bring down planes carrying humans.

"We certainly sympathize with the need to protect human safety concerning airports and bird strikes," says Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist with the United States Humane Society. "But all research points to these slaughtering programs not working."

That, says Dasher, is because unless the habitat is significantly changed, new birds will quickly come in to take the place of the slaughtered geese.

"It creates an ongoing cycle of needless killing," says Dasher, who believes that the USDA– paid by airports to cope with wildlife management– kills Canada Geese because they are, during molting season at least, "sitting ducks."

A quick round-up, she says, is simpler than focusing on longer term if more sustainable solutions or on other bird species. And Dasher complains that the agency tasked with advising airports on wildlife issues has become a sort of federal pest control firm.

"USDA's Wildlife Services has come up with some great nonlethal solutions, but unfortunately they almost always resort to the killing method," she says. "There is a conflict of interest."

Not true, says Carol Bannerman, spokesperson for the Wildlife Services, the branch of the USDA responsible for managing airport-area fauna.

"We're looking at addressing a human safety risk," says Bannerman, noting that airports are required by the FAA to mitigate wildlife risks in a five-mile radius. "That's what we're focusing on– it doesn't have to do with whether or not it's easier."

Frequent flier Christine Cornwell, who often takes business flights into and out of the Charlottesville airport, says she's grateful for efforts taken to make flying safer, but she does question the need for the killing.

"I don't want to upheave nature too much," she says, noting that none of the numerous flights she's taken–- going north or south–- has flown over Forest Lakes. "The chance of geese flying to the airport and flocking are slim to none," she notes. "I think there are bigger threats to that environment."

But if killing them causes so much upset, what is the answer to controlling their numbers?

Goose be gone

The one thing the USDA and the animal activists agree on: limiting reproduction of Canada Geese is a valuable tool, and the best way to do that, they agree, is by "egg addling," in which oil is applied to eggs soon after they're laid, preventing a gosling from developing.

Dasher says making the environment less hospitable through the use of trained dogs also effectively controls geese.

"They can be brought in prior to nesting season to create a hostile environment for the birds," says Dasher, noting research that shows that, contrary to claims that the birds will simply move to the nearest body of water and still be in the vicinity of the airport, many geese will relocate further away, and some may actually return to Canada.

Naturalist Marlene Condon condemns slaughter as an unsustainable way to control goose populations and says natural predators such as fox and coyote would do a better job.

"People need to accept their presence and learn how to live safely with them," she says of predators. She wishes more parents would teach their kids to raise their hands and scream to scare away predators.

"Children are far more likely to get killed by people in car accidents, by drowning, or accidental gun shootings or even by pets," she says, "than to ever get hurt by a coyote or fox."

Condon agrees with Dasher that egg addling is an answer, particularly since Canada Geese, like most birds, nest and hatch their young only during the spring and summer months, so efforts to control them don't need to be year round.

"It would be much more humane to destroy eggs," she says, "than to roughly handle sentient birds that would be terrified as a result and then to kill them in God-only-knows what manner."

The USDA's Bannerman, however, says that in addition to recommending habitat changes to airports in order to deter birds and other wildlife from tangling with planes, her agency does perform egg addling of Canada Goose eggs on a regular basis, and has even resorted to using "goose contraception"– a process by which agents capture female geese daily prior to nesting season and inject them with birth control hormones. That, she says, is an extremely expensive and time-consuming method. In the Forest Lakes case, she says, it was too late for prevention–- "immediate action" was called for.

The slaughter won't keep new geese from arriving, however, and cancer survivor Rasmussen wonders if there's a plan in place to prevent future goose slaughters at Forest Lakes.

According to homeowner rep Shifflett, who agreed to answer the Hook's questions by email only, Forest Lakes has always performed annual egg addling and has used strobe lights in an effort to deter geese. He did not respond by presstime to further inquiries about the timing, cost, or scope of those efforts, or what approach the neighborhood will take in the future.

Charlottesville Albemarle Regional Airport spokesperson Barbara Hutchinson did not return the Hook's repeated calls for comment.

Sign of hope or further loss?

A month after the Forest Lakes geese were killed, Carol Rasmussen looked out her window and saw a sight she'd longed for since they disappeared: a single Canada Goose gosling swimming in the middle of the lake. But its presence, she says, prompted none of the happiness it might once have inspired in the self-described nature lover.

"I knew it wouldn't survive all alone," says Rasmussen, who confirms that it promptly disappeared, perhaps the victim of a predator, before she could capture it and deliver it to a wildlife rescue association.

news-goose-rasmussen-smallDuring treatment for cancer, Forest Lakes resident Carol Rasmussen found comfort watching the Canada Geese in the lake behind her house.

She also fears for the flocks of Canada Geese she has seen flying overhead, perhaps scoping out a new place to nest and raise their young in the lake behind her house. It's a likely scenario, if one looks at Brooklyn's Prospect Park, where five weeks after the 400 geese were slaughtered, new geese have already moved in.

Rasmussen says she has spoken with other Forest Lakes residents about undertaking a volunteer egg addling effort, although it may be months or years before it will be needed.

"The lake is dead," she says sadly from the same kitchen seat from which she used to watch the geese swim past. "I paid a premium to live on the lake because of the flora and the fauna," she says, admitting she's now pondering selling her house.

"I don't want to live in community," she says, "where there's no compassion."



Where have you gone Barbara Hutchinson? Your silence speaks volumes. You initiated these goose killings on behalf of your airport, now you duck for cover. And to think CHO has a website designed to facilitate community dialogue. What a joke!

If, could, maybe, most likely and may. Common terms used by people and organizations with agendas or lack of an explanation of facts.

Wouldn't you think that the strikes would go up from the year 1995 to present in correlation with the population explosion?

To support that statement. You can clearly see the number of deer hit on our highways going up based on population and the increase of cars on the road.

Just another dog and pony show by an agency justifying their budgets.

I thought the article made it clear that the non-migratory geese are not the problem. If that is so, why are they being killed? Is it so that the employees of the USDA can earn some extra cash?

To all those expressing outrage, please make sure you Odon't own a down pillow, comforter or jacket. The cruelty and torture of the down industry is worse than the killing of certain wild flocks.

To all those expressing outrage, please make sure you don't own a down pillow, comforter or jacket. The cruelty and torture of the down industry is worse than the killing of certain wild flocks.

We can burn birds, why not books?

This is a disgusting practice. Shame on Forest Lakes and shame on Virginia.

They are just animals, some people want to make them human. If a plane leaving the airport went down they would say it was the peoples fault. Again remember they are just animals like beef cattle and we kill them by the ton each day.

Oh, the horror, the horror.
I wonder sometimes if long articles like this in The Hook are intended mostly to stir up a storm of outrage (faux outrage?) over some otherwise minor issue. Eliminating nuisance animals (professional culling of deer being a prominent example) is one of the things that must be done in situations where artificial habitats have been created by people. Permanent year round populations of Canada Geese essentially did not exist 40 years ago and are our creation through the massive buildup of golf courses and suburbs full of artificial lakes.
Percentage of bird strikes due to pigeons.doves,gulls, etc. count for little since only birds the size of geese have consistently been able to cause enough damage to down commercial aircraft.

Still, heavy handed tactics like rounding them up for slaughter are sure to provoke outrage among the cadre of chicken hearted cul-de-sac-queens typically found living in places like Forest Lakes. I once lived there and really wished some of my neighbors could have been rounded up and turned into dog food, but that's a whole "nother story". It would be far better to have people find the goose nests and "addle" their eggs.

So much for wild animals, why don't you just kill us all, accept for your domesticated cats and dogs.

geese, deer, foxes, hawks, snakes, coyotes, bears, squirrels and chipmunks are ALL vermin and should routinely be rounded up and slaughtered. Why doesn't this happen already? As usual, lazy government bureaucrats sitting on their duffs, cashing a paycheck and doing nothing!

The only animals that should be alive are cats, dogs, cows and chickens. The rest are pests and vermin. Nuisance animals that are a drain on our local economy and a danger to our cars and trucks!

you tree-hugging animal lovers make me want to vomit!

And why can't the government do something about all the bugs? Sometimes I drive through clouds of bugs and have to clean them off my windshield. Why do I even pay taxes? Certainly not so that I have to clean my own windshield!

Gosh darn liberals have ruined this country and everything it stands for!!

Wow, Angel Eyes, so you hate animals and wanted to kill your neighbors. I feel sorry for you and hope you get some help.

I applaud the killing of the geese, not so much for aviation safety, but because they are a nuisance and VERY aggressive towards children. The ducks are cool, but the geese definitely needed to go.

Col. Forbin;
You're just too funny when you say you feel sorry for me and hope I get some help.
We all know this is just dog whistle talk whose real meaning is: "I hate/disapprove/have contempt for you and your views and believe you deserve punishment" !!

ALL animals alive today are living because we (Humans) allow them to. Today's world is fit only for people. We allow some species to continue their existence because it either amuses or benefits us. Animals today are "employed" by people in various capacities: dogs, cats Etc. are "Pets", cows, chicken, pigs Etc. are "Meat". You get the picture. When animals act in ways that do not fit their "job description" we humans are uneasy. The work animals do may not always be pleasant, but it is better than being "fired" (Extinct.

Tony, that's just a myth

How are the hummingbirds going to migrate now??

"Virginia is for Lovers"......NOT! Florida, ahead of the Game....

I guess its the geese' fault for flying around 100yrs of years before man and therefore, they should be slaughtered so that us 'humans' can feel gratified knowing that we can be 'safe' from this nuisance. Are you kidding me people?? Honestly..whether you had relatives in that crash or not...the solution is not to get rid of something because its deemed 'inconvenient'. The percentage of geese flying into an airplane is a lot slimmer.
I regret the fact that I will probably be called a 'tree-hugging goose lover' because we cannot embrace the fact that we had put our modern convenience in their flight paths...and yes, you will argue about how do we travel and that I am probably a hypocrite for doing so but at least I can admit it.
Unless we all learn to be independent from all our modern conveniences' we'll just find another way to destroy everything.
So guess in today's society..we should just get rid of something that does not appease to the general public.
I bet you if say...man's best friend was to cross the road and cause a huge car accident that involved several casualties, we would not slaughter a whole lot of dogs because' they're preferred'.
But if we were to follow this principle..how would it be different?
Weather they are animals or not, we all have equal rights to exist but, it seems that only humans are dictate who can and cannot.
So who really is the animals?
I wish the tables were turned sometimes, so we can all wake up.

Sometimes I really hate people. That's about all I can say. I got to the point in the article where they talked about rounding up geese to slaughter at Forest Lakes because they thought they *might* pose a threat to the airport, followed by a lovely picture of a little family of geese, and I didn't keep going. Humans, as always, forcing everything on the planet to revolve around them. sigh.

As others have said, any of you tree hugging goose lovers would change your mind in a heartbeat if a relative was killed due to geese.

You can site statistics till you are blue in the face. It doesn't change the fact that, despite statistics, it "could" happen. What was the local goose population in 1995 compared with the goose population now. Based on personal experience I would say it is much higher now, which increases the chances of a goose strike.

I personally know of a horse that died due to salmonella that the vet said was most likely from goose manure. How would you tree huggers like it if your precious little child got sick because of goose manure.

This is the same mentality that VDOT has regarding traffic hazards...we should wait until a bunch of people are killed before we take action.

Perhaps this could have been handled in a different way, I don't know. I do know we should not wait until something really bad happens before we take action.

Anyway, that is the nice thing about these forums, everyone is free to state their opinion. Whether other people agree or not.

This is silly. If they love them so much, take a picture, have one stuffed! I really would love to see people get this passionate about the babies that get murdered every day that don't pose a threat to anyone! Geez, get your priorities straight!

"statistics that show that of the 1,299 recorded bird strikes between 1990 and 2008 in Virginia, just three percent involved Canada Geese" "Charlottesville airport, FAA data shows that of the 24 reported bird strikes since 1990, only one� in November 1995� seemed to involve a Canada Goose. "

Oh yeah. Huge problem.

ââ?¬Å?Playing golf is difficult enough,”


Guess there aren't many Buddhists in these geese killing organizations. What if the tables were turned, how would you feel ?

by Thich Nhat Hanh
"Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I undertake to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life."


"I really would love to see people get this passionate about the babies that get murdered every day that don’t pose a threat to anyone! Geez, get your priorities straight!"

Those babies "may" grow up to be serial killers!!!

Why not just teach the geese abstinence-only sex education? No "hanky-panky" = No goslings.

Maybe Ms. Rasmussen should go out and buy some less lethal, but inexpensive, Mallards (ducks that fly low) to beautify her favorite lake. I would assume these "goose lovers" would have a radical change of heart if any of there relatives were to die in a bird-strike related plane crash.

"Artificial habitats created by people." That is what it is all about. That is why active management of certain species like deer and geese is necessary.
I cannot get all that upset over Canada Geese removal in the name of air safety(though sounds like starlings and pigeons are even worse safety hazards). I am more upset when I see acres of manicured, chemically drenched lawn, totally worthless to the environment and only serving as someone's ego trip. Or all the acres of farmland and woods that are razed for yet another Super CrapMart or strip mall. And then there are the vegetarian animal-rights types who denounce hunting and yet don't think about all the wildlife habitat that is destroyed to cultivate soybeans for their precious tofu.
I wonder how many of these people who are opposed to reduction in numbers of overabundant species like Whitetailed Deer and Canada Geese wage war on dandelions and other weeds, depriving butterfly larvae and pollinators of a food source.Small, inconspicuous insects don't get people's attention when they start declining in numbers.

Goose droppings amount to 11-16% of their bodyweight per day, EVERYDAY. (Do the math for a typical human). It has to go somewhere. Perhaps having them and their waste in the lake would be a good thing... Except that they do not defecate in a lake.

How did these geese get here?? They should stay in Canada wwhere they belong. We need to build a 5000 ft wall all along the border with Canada to stop these leeches from coming to our communities

Nice rant, Dude or Dudette. Don't worry though; when industrial agriculture collapses we'll be capping those gooses left and right for the ole dinner pot!! The we'll find out all those golf courses and large lot subdivisions were actually a clever plan for sustainable food production.

"To all those expressing outrage, please make sure you Odon’t own a down pillow,..."

It isn't the outrage of culling the herd. It is outrage at the lies and misinformation that is told to the public to justify incompetence.

It's hard to believe that no one has stated the obvious: if bird airplane strikes are such a problem, then why are we not doing the two things that would afford the most safety and make the most sense? I'm referring to the use of the MERLIN bird radar system, and mapping known migratory routes and routing planes to avoid them. (When Israel did that, it cut their bird strikes by 88% without killing a single bird. Interesting that the busiest bird migratory area in the world is over Asia and the Middle east. And no one there is killing birds for hitting plances. Hmmmmm......)

It's also hard to believe how easily some of you are manipulated by shameless government scare tactics of safe air travel. I'd be far more concerned about pilots having a couple of drinks before getting into the cockpit, being on meds or flying too many hours than I'd ever be about bird strikes. By the way, we are in the birds' air space, not the other way around. If we cannot build safer planes, we have no business being 30,000 feet above the ground. A plane in Alaska hit an eagle a few weeks ago. Should we now start killing our national bird? When did killing everything become our only option? Is this the principle of: when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail?

Killing the geese, aside from those of us who abhor the concept on ethical and humane terms, is not free, people. Who do you think pays the $9,000 annual tab from the USDA who does the killing. YOU do, through your tax dollars. On a simply monetary level, this is a cost you will NEVER stop paying because it is impossible to kill all the geese. As noted in the article, when they have been killed, new geese come in to take the place of the slaughtered geese almost immediately. To do the same thing over and over expecting the outcome to be different is the definition of insanity. Unless you are the USDA, where doing the same thing over and over is the definition of profit.

Any time animal populations go to extremes, either to the point of extinction or to the point of overpopulation, you can thank human interference and manipulation by people who know how to appease only one sector of the population: the hunting lobby. Every animal problem is caused by catering to that group, because gaming licenses fund the cushy nepotism jobs of the US Fish and Wildlife and Dept. of Natural Resources people and others of their ilk. They have mismanaged most animals and created bad press for others to justify what they do. If we left them alone, animal populations would never get out of hand.

To those of you who hate wildlife and regard everything but yourselves as nuisances, nice values you're teaching your children and great world you'll be leaving them. Hot flash for you: the animals have as much right as you to exist in peace and some of us will make sure that they will do just that. Your grandchildren will have ME and people like me to thank for leaving them some beauty in this world. As for you, if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

For those of you who don't think animnals are an important issue, sorry, but they are, if for no other reason than the way we handle them is indicative of our own evolution or lack thereof.

Geese are devoted mates, exemplary parents and fascinating, social, highly intelligent birds. They are usually quite friendly, but get a bit aggressive when defending their nests. Smart people know to repect that instead of annoying them when they are nesting. Of course they poop, but that is no reason to annhilate them. To their credit, they are not causing STD's, drunk driving, exhibiting road rage or causing gigantic oiol spills. In perspective to the damage WE cause in this world, I don't think gassing them death is a fair punishment.

You made some good points, A Steinberg. Since 1990, there have actually been at least 125 reported incidents of American bald eagles striking civil aircraft in the U.S. By simply overemphasizing some statistics and ignoring others, one can actually present a credible argument that the American bald eagle is the single most dangerous wildlife threat to aircraft in the U.S. today.
It isn't that difficult to manipulate official FAA data to present a false reality to advance one's agenda. Just ask CHO. Killing those geese may ultimately help CHO to entice that third carrier they need to become more profitable. The geese weren't killed to prospectively save human lives, they were killed to help CHO market itself to new business. So by all means, land those new planes on that new runway and let that cash register ring!

jj- it's the better health care we have. As soon as ObamaScare comes to be, all the geese will stay north.