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Brooklyn - -
New York City's Largest Off-Leash Community



Prospect Park Geese Roundup

"...there comes a time when one must take a position, that it is neither safe, nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him that it is right..." ~ Martin Luther King

FIDO is not only committed to working for a safe healthy park for dogs but a safe healthy park for wildlife as well.

What we know... What our officials knew...

What our officials will do so this never happens again!

WHAT HAPPENED - - what our officials knew - public reaction - who to contact

2011 UPDATES

April 2011 update:
Mayor Bloomberg proposes to open a Geese "management" office headed by a biologist from the US Department of Agriculture staff; the very people who swept in under cover of darkness and gassed to death over four hundred of Prospect Park's geese and goslings. Read the Brooklyn Paper's editorial defending our park's wildlife.

December 2010 update:
View the actual "Goose Kill" contract between the City and the USDA (pdf) or view it on scribd.com

* November 2010 update:
The Prospect Park Wildlife Advisory Committee Management Plan

2010 TIMELINE....

09/27/10

What transpired... The nutty nutshell!

It all came down to the Mayor and his bean counters: what would the City's liability be should geese bring down a plane? Mind you, this was before Sully landed his flight in the Hudson. When first presented with the extermination proposal by the City, the Prospect Park Alliance let it be known that killing all the City's geese was a "dumb idea". But the steam roller was moving forward; Tupper Thomas not as powerful as everyone thinks she is. The City signed a contract with the department of Agriculture requesting the geese be exterminated. Contrary to the agreement, no notice was given to the Prospect Park administration who felt blind sided by the early morning invasion.

The Director of Gateway National Park, a Federal wildlife area encompassing Jamaica Bay and JFK Airport, refused to let the Department of Agriculture exterminate his geese; citing no proof that they were a danger to aircraft. See Mayor's take on this - or lack of take, below

Mayor Blomberg is not repentant.

sources:

New York Post - August 18th
Article by Stephen Brown

NY Times- July 18, 2010
Update

New York Observer-Sept 22, 2010
Update Formation of Prospect Park's Wildlife task force

What Happened

NY Times Update
July 18, 2010

New York Times
400 Park Geese Die, for Human Fliers’ Sake
By ISOLDE RAFTERY
Published: July 12, 2010
See complete text NY Times article

excerpt...
"They have been a familiar sight around the lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn: Canada geese, scores of them. To some residents, the birds and their fuzzy offspring are charming hints of wildlife amid the bricks of the city. Recently, when one was found with an arrow through its neck, park rangers tried to corral it to administer first aid

But then, over the last few days, parkgoers noticed something strange.

The geese were gone. Nearly 400 of them.

On Monday, the answer emerged. Wildlife biologists and technicians had descended on the park Thursday morning and herded the birds into a fenced area. The biologists, working with the federal Agriculture Department, then packed the geese two or three to a crate and took them to a nearby building where they were gassed with lethal doses of carbon dioxide, Carol A. Bannerman, a spokeswoman, said.

Ms. Bannerman said the measure was necessary. “The thing to always remember in this New York situation is that we are talking about aviation and passenger and property safety,” she said. “In New York City, from 1981 to 1999, the population increase was sevenfold.”

... In recent weeks, the Canada geese have begun their annual molting, meaning they could not fly. Their capture was timed to the molting.

Susan Elbin, conservation director at New York City Audubon, was cautiously supportive of the mass euthanizing. “There are ways to manage birds nonlethally,” Ms. Elbin said. “But if you’re trying to manage a population level, sometimes those hard decisions need to be made.”

The goal is to eliminate most of the geese within seven miles of the major airports in the region. Prospect Park is 6.5 miles from both La Guardia Airport and Kennedy Airport...

CNN Jane Velez-Mitchell
August 8, 2010
excerpts...

Brooklyn Paper's Update
July 28, 2010
excerpts...

"Experts from the two organizations most actively involved in pre-crash discussions with goose policy makers — Geese Peace and the Humane Society — say they have barely spoken to government agencies since the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

“We are sick and tired of hearing them claim to have included us in the process” of goose control, said Laura Simon, the urban wildlife director with the Humane Society. “We’re very frustrated. They have not included us in the decision-making process.”

"The city claims it is listening to outside experts.

“The committee was, and still is, aware of the breadth of opinions on bird-reduction strategies as the city has discussed its efforts with the Humane Society and Geese Peace,” said Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. “The USDA is also in regular contact with Geese Peace and a member of the Humane Society sits on the USDA’s National Wildlife Service Advisory Committee.”

 

The Vigil

In Memory Of Our Beloved Prospect Park Geese - July 17th

President Humane Society, NY chapter, Patrick Kwan

Vigil for the gassed geese was held Saturday, July 17 at the gazebo on Prospect Park lake (near the entrance at Vanderbilt Street) at 6:30 pm. More police than politicians showed up but those who did, assured the crowd that this mistake would never happen again.

District 39 Councilmember, Brad Landers

State Senator, Eric Adams

 

City Hall Geese Rally Pictorial
August 12th - Noon

300 strong gathered on the steps of New York City Hall to express outrage toward the
needless slaughter of Prospect Park's 400 geese & goslings in the name of aircraft safety. Nonetheless, Gateway National Recreation Area's (Jamaica Bay) geese, who swim at the end of JFK's runways, remain under the protection of their Federal Director, until he can be shown proof that New York City's geese pose any real danger.


Council Member Stephen Levin


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City Council Member Letitia James State Senator Eric Adams

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Actress Elaine Hendricks.

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Humane Society, NY chapter, Patrick Kwan

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Wildlife Rescuer, Annie-Katrin Titze, speaks to the cover up

 

What Our Officials Knew...

Officials' Reaction...
Mayor Bloomberg - Tupper Thomas - FIDO In Prospect Park - Council Member Brad Landers - Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern - State Senator Eric Adams

New York Observer-Sept 22, 2010
Update Fomation of Prospect Park's Wildlife TaskFforce

New York Post - August 18th (Very Important Explaination)
See Article by Stephen Brown

"The blood is on the city’s hands.
New documents revealed this week that city officials pushed for a “no-fly zone” for geese far wider than a five-mile radius from airports suggested by federal officials — even discussing the need for a 30-mile kill zone."

In essence, Bloomberg pushed to rid all geese in the name of potential liability should there be an aircraft accident.

The New York Times reported that the City’s Parks Department “signed permission for the removal of the birds” and U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson Carol Bannerman told the Associated Press in late June, “We can only go onto properties where we have permission.” So who gave permission and how did they arrive at that decision? If our parks department was "overruled" they should just say so and the investigation should move on to the Federal level.

The Government's "Work Plan" for exterminating geese ...
downloadable as a pdf

Section J specifies that this Corporate Agreement" was to be in effective from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010

In effect it had already expired.

The Mayor's Response to a FIDO member's 311 Complaint
(two months after the complaint was filed)

From: <crmrepl@crm.nyc.gov>
Date: October 1, 2010 5:59:30 PM EDT
To: <bryan@williamsoncalvert.com>
Subject: Responding to your message

Dear Mr. Calvert:

Thank you for contacting me about Canada geese, and the measures we're taking to reduce the dangers they pose to aviation around our City. I'm glad you took the time to write.

Incidents like the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 show us how important it is to keep geese from nesting near airport runways. Please know that we've already taken a number of non-lethal measures, including: public education to discourage feeding, the use of dogs for herding, pyrotechnics, bird deterrent wires and netting, and more. We've had some success, and we're now working with the United States Department of Agriculture Office of Wildlife Services to take additional steps to avoid serious accidents and ensure the safest possible conditions for New Yorkers and travelers alike.

Thanks again for writing and sharing your concerns.

Sincerely,
Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor

Please do not respond to this email. To submit a message to the Office of the Mayor, you may use the webform at http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

Mayor Bloomberg
Wall Street Journal July 27th

Geese Gassing Is Good for Humans, Mayor Says
Not everyone is shedding tears over the extermination of hundreds of Canada geese living in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Asked about the federal Agriculture Department’s recent gassing of several hundred birds, which has sparked outrage from some community members, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was not exactly emotional over the fate of the geese.

“Look, the Department of Agriculture has to deal with the fact that all these geese are a danger to people flying,” he said. “People are not going to stop flying and we have to make a decision. It’s geese or human beings — I can tell you where I come out on that. I don’t think you need a quote from me.”

From Tupper Thomas, Prospect Park Alliance
7/16/10


Dear Friends of Prospect Park:
The recent culling of Canada Geese in Prospect Park is disturbing to many people, including staff at the Park. That people care so passionately about the Park and its natural environment and speak out in its defense is truly wonderful and very welcomed.

The Canada Geese were removed from the Park late last week and euthanized as part of a joint U.S. Department of Agriculture, Port Authority and City of New York program to reduce the geese population near the flight paths of area airports. Prospect Park is one of a number of parks and locations chosen by the City of New York to be included in this program.

Prospect Park is a public, New York City park and is administered in accordance with City, State and Federal regulations and policies. However many Park users have contacted us in recent days about what can be done in the future to avoid this situation.

The staff at Prospect Park, both the Alliance and the Parks Department, recognize that we are the stewards of this amazing greenspace and public resource. Over the years we have undertaken extensive restoration of the Park's natural areas and watercourse to provide wildlife with hundreds of acres of healthy habitat. We have a wonderful natural resources crew who work year round to keep the habitat healthy and a staff of naturalists at our Audubon Center who educate thousands of young people annually about the importance of wildlife.

To provide the best ongoing ecological care of our habitat, the Park will be forming a wildlife management taskforce comprised of experts in the field. This will strengthen the Alliance and Parks Department's commitment to safeguarding both nature and people.

Prospect Park is one of many City, State and Federally managed parks in the metropolitan area and holistic stewardship of the regional ecology is important. Prospect Park is our park - thankfully many of you consider it your park - and with your help, we can continue to work together to ensure Prospect Park remains healthy and beautiful.

Sincerely yours,
Tupper Thomas
Prospect Park Administrator/Prospect Park Alliance President

FIDO In Prospect Park - Letter To Tupper Thomas
7/20/10

July 20, 2010
Tupper Thomas, Prospect Park Administration/ Prospect Park Alliance President
PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE
95 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, New York 11215

Dear Ms. Thomas:
FIDO challenges any reasonable person to justify the after mid-night round-up and slaughter of non-migratory resident flight-less geese, including entire families, and their goslings (babies), that for generations and decades peacefully resided in Prospect Park since they were transported into the Park by trucks way back 80 years ago in the 1930s. DNA experts at the Smithsonian Institute Feather Identification Laboratory confirmed that the geese tragically sucked into Flight 1549’s engines were migratory geese passing through New York; not Prospect Park’s resident, non-migratory geese.

Prospect Park’s geese mate for life and stay together during all seasons. The life span of our resident geese is about 20 years. They do not migrate. Instead they simply “pond hop” and stay within three (3) miles of where they were born which is called their nesting area. Prospect Park was the nesting area of our resident geese.

Our resident geese do not know how to migrate. Although resident geese can fly long distances as their migratory cousins, resident geese have generally learned that it is not necessary to migrate and therefore do not migrate. They molt from early June to late July which means that adult geese lose wing feathers during this time and are unable to fly. The molting season overlaps, as nature created it, with the maturing season for goslings.

Of particular significance, and even of utmost importance, is that our resident geese are located, according to the New York Times, at least, 9 miles from the nearest airport. According to USDA’s Bannerman the federal environmental impact study provided for geese culling within 3 miles of any airport boundary if it’s permitted by the landowner. The 3 mile radius was increased to 7 miles, but even at 7 miles it was still, at least, 2 more miles away from our resident non-migratory geese in Prospect Park. FIDO challenges any reasonable person to justify the mass slaughter of our Prospect Park resident non-migratory geese which were obviously located well outside of – over 2 miles away from -- the 7 mile limit. Reasonable people cannot dispute that any permission given was absolutely incorrect having dire grave consequences for our Prospect Park resident, non-migratory geese.

Prospect Park’s resident geese were rounded-up after mid-night on July 8th when they were “molting,” in their defenseless “flightless” stage. They were purportedly quickly, methodically and efficiently rounded-up into pens, immediately crammed into boxes, stacked onto trucks then immediately transported to warehouses where they were gassed to death. USDA’s Carol Bannerman stated that they were purportedly dead within 5 minutes of being gassed although this is obviously doubtful. The carcasses were then immediately removed to a landfill, “to be dead and forgotten.” The round-up, gassing and removal of carcasses were so efficiently done it was said to have been done with “military precision.” It is this “military precision,” however, that, at least, in part troubles so many as horrifyingly evocative of other efficient mass exterminations by gas in history. In any event, although it was “military precise,” by military standards, it was, indisputably, inhumane.

One hundred years ago, this method of extermination may have been acceptable and necessary. Not now, however. Not in this day and age when we know it as a fact as much as gravity and the sun shining, that animals, birds, including geese are sentient emotional entities just as much as humans are, and are entitled to life and to consideration. The eminent Dr. Temple Grandin demonstrated that treating cattle with proper humane consideration to their needs before their slaughter makes us more humane and brings us closer to God. The after mid-night round-up of resident flightless non-migratory geese that for generations and decades lived peacefully in Prospect Park since the 1930s was neither humane nor, of course, close to God. It was unjustified and absolutely unnecessary, but also -- for all of its much touted “military precision”-- grotesque, sickening, horrific, and absolutely inhumane and the furthest it could be from the perfection of God.

Nary a thought was given to relocation, nor any other reasonable viable alternative. No call was ever made to the “guardian angel of birds,” Peter Debacher, located upstate Grafton, New York, who created a sanctuary on 20 acres, nor to the carpenter in upstate Bovina, New York who has 80 acres and 2 ponds who stated he would have taken our resident geese.

The circumstances evidence a “knee-jerk action” just as was feared by Dave Avrin, the well-meaning, unjustifiably maligned and attacked protector of the geese at the Gateway National Recreation Area (including Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge). There was a “knee-jerk action” to slaughter as many geese as possible during their most vulnerable state of being without any thought to whether they were migratory geese or non-migratory resident geese that lived more than seven (7) miles from the nearest airport. The stewards of Prospect Park undertook no analysis, no study, no environmental impact assessment.

The fact that the slaughter was kept secret and conducted under the dark of night indicates the fact that there was an unwillingness to vet the “military precise” slaughter with the public and qualified avian scientists and experts.

The heroism and great compassion and humanity emblematic of the “Miracle On the Hudson,” stands in stark, harsh contrast to those that used it to turn it into an unjustified, inhumane slaughter of Prospect Park’s resident, non-migratory geese. The spokesperson, Carol Bannerman, for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, expressly and plainly stated to avoid any ambiguity that “[w]e can only go onto properties where we have permission” (emphasis added) USDA’s Bannerman repeated it: “ a nationwide control order for Canada geese issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...[required] an environment impact statement that allows goose culling within three (3) miles of any airport boundary if it’s permitted by the landowner” (emphasis added). USDA’s Bannerman again expressly stated “[w]e cannot take geese off their property.” Thus the unjustified, inhumane “ military precision” mass slaughtering of Prospect Park’s resident geese was accomplished by the “permission” of Prospect Park.

FIDO requests that the individuals involved and witness to the round-up of Prospect Park’s resident geese into “pens,” to the cramming of them into “boxes,” to the piling up of them into trucks and to the transporting of them to warehouses -- presumably somewhere in New York City -- and to the gassing of them, and to the removal of them to a landfill, immediately and courageously step-up to tell of what you witnessed so that an accurate and true and complete historical record can be made to prevent this from ever again happening. FIDO requests that videotapes and any footage and photographs be revealed to the public.

Our Prospect Park Administrator Tupper Thomas issued a statement on the letterhead of Prospect Park Alliance stating they “will be forming a management task force comprised of experts.” The future formation of this group of “experts” is obviously done to avoid present and future accountability for what has happened. It is, of course, not enough and, in any event, does absolutely nothing to ascertain what has happened which is the only way to avoid it ever again happening. The fact it may again happen and happen again very soon is the recent observation that the few geese that miraculously escaped the mass slaughtering still exist and may pose a problem requiring their destruction thus evidencing that absolutely nothing has been learned by the senseless, unjustified and inhumane slaughter just days ago of Prospect Park’s 400 resident geese.

FIDO calls for accountability by requesting that those that gave their permission to the USDA, to publicly step-up and “own-up” to what they did, to explain why they did what they did, to understand what went wrong and to express regret, remorse. If there is no regret by those who engineered and participated in this mass slaughter; if there is no concern by those who did it -- if they are “willing executioners”-- then they are absolutely incompetent, unqualified, ill-suited to be stewards or protectors of our parks, especially Prospect Park. Prospect Park deserves no less than the courageous stewardship demonstrated by Gateway National Recreation Area’s Dave Arvin, and FIDO demands no less.

Truly yours,

FIDO STEERING COMMITTEE

Anthony Chiappelloni, President

FIDO STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBERS

Anthony Chiappelloni
Michael Devereaux
Brian Henry
Robert Herkovitz
Bob Ipcar
Nancy Keness
Paul Kowacki
Patricia Mullins
Garry Osgood
Lynn Radov
Betty Schwartz-Dowling
Stuart Siet
Dave Singer

Brad Landers, City Council Member District 39

Dear Mr. Paladini,

Thank you for your note concerning the killing of the Canada geese in Prospect Park. Like you, I am angry and saddened by the actions of Mayor Bloomberg, the Port Authority, and the US Department of Agriculture.

The killing of Prospect Park's entire population of Canada geese, in the middle of the night, without public notice or input, strikes at the heart of our community’s connection to the natural world. The Park is where we first introduce our kids to nature and wildlife; like many others, I found it difficult and painful to explain to my puzzled kids what happened. I was grateful, at least, for the opportunity to meet many others who shared these feelings at the community vigil that was held on Sunday, July 18th.

The decision-making process was deeply flawed. The Humane Society and others have presented humane and effective options for controlling the geese population in the City, but those options were not explored.

I will be working with advocates to change the City's policy, building upon the July 18th vigil. I have requested that the City Council hold a hearing on this topic, so that we can better understand what happened and insist on changes for the future. Councilmembers Levin, James, and I wrote to the Mayor, the Port Authority, and the USDA to express our anger. And I will be introducing legislation requiring the City to develop a wildlife conservation plan (we do not currently have one) through a process that includes genuine public input. Please keep in touch with my office as we continue to work on these issues.

Thanks again for your concerns. We cannot bring back these geese, of course. But I believe we can move forward to make positive change in how we treat the wildlife with whom we share this region.

Sincerely,
Brad Lander, Councilmember, 39th District

Former Park Commissioner Henry Stern
see Henry's on-going commentary at http://nycivicblog.blogspot.com/

Brooklyn Eagle
July 15, 2010
Henry Stern's Commentary

New York Observer
Former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern and Senator Eric Adams condemns the geese slaughter...
By Dana Rubinstein
July 15, 2010 | 2:17 p.m

excerpts...
Criticism of the unexpected city and federal government destruction of hundreds of Prospect Park geese continues to mount. Newly piling on the anti-geese-gassing bandwagon: former Parks commish Henry Stern and state Senator Eric Adams, who yesterday both issued strongly worded statements questioning the wisdom of destroying the geese that have made the Prospect Park lake their home for generations.

Mr. Stern—who served as Parks Department commissioner for more than a decade and was famous for giving nicknames to Parks Department employees (his was Starquest; current Parks Commish Adrian Benepe's is Oberon)—sent out an email to his listserv that concluded, "Our view of the problem is that important issues have not been answered satisfactorily, and that we lack confidence in the process employed to reach specific decisions on the use of deadly force on animal families."

Mr. Stern quoted extensively from the New York City Audubon's position, which, essentially, is that killing animals in parks should generally be a last resort. Mr. Stern's full email is copied below.

See full New York Observer Article

State Senator Eric Adams from above NY Observer Link

"Meanwhile, State Senator Eric Adams issued a statement expressing his dismay at the geese culling:

I am contacting you regarding the Canadian geese culled from Prospect Park and killed last weekend; I was dismayed by the manner in which these majestic creatures were slaughtered. I am upset further by the absence of any notice to residents; I am aware that numerous individuals visit the park to watch and feed the geese, and that many were alarmed by the absence of these beautiful birds.

I am convinced that a more humane method might have been used to control the goose population. The operation was conducted under the auspices of the United States Department of Agriculture, and I would urge any individual who was distressed to write both to them and to his/her federal representatives (Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressperson Yvette Clarke). The geese were removed as a result of the "danger posed to civil aviation," and a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration would also be appropriate.

Please know that I take this matter very seriously, having sponsored an April 19, 2010 roundtable discussion on animal rights in the State Senate Hearing Room at 250 Broadway, N.Y., and introduced legislation that requires governmental agencies (such as the police) to make a good faith attempt to provide service horses with a suitable "retirement" habitat."

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The Brooklyn Papers
Dead goose walking?
BY STEPHEN BROWN
July 15, 2010


excerpts...

"Two geese showed up at the lake in Prospect Park yesterday, just six days after 250 were rounded up and slaughtered by federal officials in the name of airplane safety — and park-goers are already wondering when the newcomers will be killed, too."

see full article the Brooklyn Papers which includes items below

Organizations' Reaction...

New York City Audubon - Humane Society of New York

New York City Audubon

"On July 13, a story in the New York Times, “400 Prospect Park Geese are Killed,” incorrectly characterized New York City Audubon’s position on culling resident Canada geese within the five boroughs of New York City...

"...The recent cull at Prospect Park included nearly 100 percent of the geese in that area; essentially, this population was “managed” into extinction. NYC Audubon strongly disagrees with that decision."

See more: www.nycaudubon.org/home/home/goose2010.shtml

What You Can Do to Help

If you share NYC Audubon’s opinion that the City should develop a more scientifically sound plan for managing Canada geese, please make your voice heard! You can help us reach our goal of having 1,000 people register formal complaints with the City. All you have to do is call 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK from outside of NYC) and register a complaint. There are several important things to remember when phoning 311 with your complaint:

When registering a complaint, its important to say that you would like to "register an opinion with the Mayor." 311 may encourage you to submit the complaint through an email address or via mail, but it is possible to register an opinion through 311, and NYC Audubon has confirmed this several times with 311 supervisors. The more people who phone to register a complaint, the more familiar 311 operators will likely become handling this type of complaint.

It's possible that 311 operators will attempt to categorize your complaint. The appropriate category for this type of issue is "Environment."

It's possible that 311 operators will ask you about the date and time of the incident. Its ok to say you're not exactly sure, and to ask that they use today's date and time for their form.
Please e-mail us your tracking number so we can follow up on it later. Emails can be sent to info@nycaudubon.org
If you encounter any challenges registering your complaint, please phone Jeff Friedrich at 212-691-7483

The Humane Society of the United States called on federal officials to “immediately halt” its killing program and focus on “a plan that will truly protect public safety.” The group claims that evidence shows that airplanes typically encounter migrating birds, not resident populations like the hundreds that call Prospect Park home. This inhumane, ineffective and costly contract is the wrong way to address the goose population,” said Patrick Kwan, the Humane Society’s New York director."

Borough President Markowitz, who owns a parrot, pronounced himself “distraught” over the killings. “I have a special place in my heart for our winged companions,” he added, saying he will demand that federal officials “find a way to maximize air safety and control avian populations through methods that do not involve the wholesale slaughter of these beautiful birds.”

Who To Contact...

For Federal, New York State, New York City & Downtown/South Brooklyn Officials,
see SmalltownBrooklyn.com's Town Hall/our officials section

In Addition:

(Important)
Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary: 202-720-3631
NYC Department of Environmental Protection: contact
Adrian Benepe, City Parks Commissioner
Kevin Jeffrey, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner
Prospect Park Alliance

Petition to the USDA (submitted by In Defense of Animals)
Tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, To Stop Exterminating Canada Geese
Defense of Animal's protest link to Mayor Boomberg

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