Is there scientific support for the cull of Canada Geese at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (JBWR) near Kennedy Airport?

I want to voice out loud about the irrational action suggested by Senator Gillibran.  So I pick this more well defined specific question to answer in order to provide a scientifically sound and fact-based report.

Background articles:


" ... came after bird strikes forced emergency landings of two commercial airliners.

The pilot on JetBlue Flight 571 declared an emergency and returned to the runway after hitting two geese after departing Westchester County Airport on April 24.

A week prior, a flight bound for Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing at John F. Kennedy Airport after striking a bird. No one was hurt."

"Animal advocates call the mass killings senseless.

“There has not been any incident of a Canada goose from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge crashing into any airplane from JFK or otherwise,” David Karopkin of GooseWatch NYC told 1010 WINS. “The geese that are at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge are not posing any threat to the aircraft.”"


(1) The JetBlue Flight 571 incident was not happened at Kennedy Airport or LaGuardia Airport.  And it is likely that the two geese are NOT from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

(2) The second incident was caused by bird(s), not sure involving a geese or not.  Even it is really caused by a flock of geese.  Do they come from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge?  We have to note that there are many source of Canada Geese and some are residents in NYC while others are migrants. Need more investigation.  <info-1>

"Goose eradication was authorized in New York City after birds [a flock of Canada Geese] were sucked into both engines of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 out of LaGuardia in 2009." (January 15, 2009)

"Nearly 1,700 Canada geese were rounded up and killed in New York City in 2010, but animal rights groups say the method isn’t working to prevent bird strikes."

Analysis of the 2009 famous incident:

Background:  wiki


(1) To prevent similar incidents, workers from the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the city's Parks and Recreation Department and Environmental Protection Departments descended on 17 locations across New York capturing and gassing 1,235 Canada Geese in June and July 2009.[91] The Agriculture Department undertook another goose control measure by coating 1,739 eggs with corn oil, which kills developing goslings by depriving them of air.[91]

(2a) On May 28, 2010, the NTSB published its final report into the accident. It determined the probable cause of the accident to be "the ingestion of large birds into each engine, which resulted in an almost total loss of thrust in both engines".[35]

(2b) reports surfaced that the same airplane and same flight had experienced a similar but less severe compressor stall on January 13. During that flight, passengers were told they might have to make an emergency landing.[96][97]However, the affected engine was restarted and the flight continued to Charlotte. The NTSB later reported that this engine surge had been caused by a faulty temperature sensor, which was replaced, and that the engine was undamaged by the event, which allowed the plane to return to service.[98] (Tsiu:  really undamaged?)

(3) Still the same question:  Do the geese come from Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge? 

(4a) And when geese in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge are removed, their habitat and natural resource will be occupied and consumed by other geese.  Unless you kill all the geese around this area or passing (during migration) the route used by airplanes, you cannot prevent another strike.

(4b) Culling Geese is not an affective way to reduce bird strike. There are alternate ways which are more effective. 



"The USDA rounds up geese only in parks near Milwaukee's airports. At other sites where they're simply a nuisance and not a threat to aircraft, such as golf courses or zoos, other methods to mitigate the population are done first such as oiling eggs and using dogs to scare the birds away."

"Mitchell International Airport employs a full-time USDA wildlife biologist who manages the vegetation at the airport to make it unattractive to wildlife. The biologist also determines if birds are trying to nest and uses firecrackers to scare them, Mitchell spokeswoman Patricia Rowe said.

Since November 1994, six Canada goose strikes have been reported at Mitchell, according to the FAA Wildlife Strike Database. Some bird strikes are not reported, and some reports do not note the type of bird striking a plane. In March 2006, a Frontier Airlines flight in Milwaukee sustained substantial damage when a Canada goose was ingested into one of the engines.

Michalets, who enjoys watching geese in Humboldt Park, called her county supervisor and the DNR last week to ask about the disappearing geese but didn't hear back. She wonders how killing the birds from parks near the airport will make things safer.

"There's so many other geese flying around, I don't think taking care of the geese in the parks is going to take care of anything," Michalets said."

(7) FAQs at

What will the effect be of this cull?

The cull lessens the threat from resident Canada geese to the flying public. Ecologically, the decrease in resident Canada goose populations will leave more food for other aquatic bird species, particularly Brant geese. This is especially important in winter months where food is scarce. Water quality in Jamaica Bay's freshwater ponds will improve as well.


Will Brant Geese be the next problem?  But even it is, it is not likely for NPS to cull them because it is not easy and low cost.  Culling resident Canada Geese in public parks and places in June/July while they are molting is much easier and of low cost. 

(8) (in UK)

Culling Geese is not an affective way to control bird population, other methods can be use to control them, to which Leeds and Bradford don't seem to be doing. The bird scarer hasn't been heard in a long time, why would they stop using it if they are afraid of bird strikes. There has never been a bird strike in Yeadon that has been caused by Canada Geese. The main culprit for bird strikes in the UK are gulls but they don't seem to be culling them if it is such a problem. There are to many lies surrounding the culling and the public are only listening to what the airport are saying. They have killed more than 100 geese not 10 like they said.  I'm all for public safety but when there are alternate ways which are more effective than killing i will opt for those. Killing is a quick fix not a long urn solution to the problem. If you agree please sign and share.



Canada Geese have been in the UK since the 1600s! Clive Hartley resigned from the LDNPA (Lake District National Park Authority) because they would not accept his scientific evidence of 5 years to prove that the Canada Geese numbers on Windermere are actually reducing despite the poor attempt at management. The LDNPA have no scientific evidence what so ever that the geese are causing any harm and now admit it. Stratford upon Avon and Belfast Airport have been able to manage Canada Geese without killing any. 

(11) NYC Audubon

NYC Audubon believes that lethal control should be the last resort after all other methods for managing bird populations have been exhausted. The blanket approach of lethal control will not significantly reduce the risk birds pose to aviation safety. We maintain that City officials should reduce the amount of lush, green lawn space available throughout the city, which attracts geese. Without such measures, new geese will take up residence here and populations will quickly rebound to current levels. The City may also limit growth of the resident geese population through egg-addling or nest destruction. 

NYC Audubon also takes issue with the target population size identified by the Department of Agriculture, which calls for reducing the number of Canada geese in the city by 80 percent. This figure is not supported by sound scientific research. The summer 2010 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.

When one species becomes so abundant that it has a negative impact on the habitat and resources of other native bird species as may be the case with Canada geese, NYC Audubon, like most Audubon chapters, supports population management. But the option of lethal control should be a last resort, undertaken only when bird populations threaten the health, safety, and welfare of other wildlife and humans, and only after a rigorous environmental impact assessment has been done and full disclosure has been made to local citizens and other stakeholders.

(12) (Sep. 19, 2012)

Riepe said, although he wasn’t pleased about the culling of the birds, he understood the reasons for it.  

gigi wrote on September 21, 2012, 4:42 AM [LINK]

This article is quite thorough. I don't think it can be emphasized enough that there is NO scientific basis for killing these geese. There's no evidence it's necessary, and there's no evidence it makes any difference in airline safety. According to the FAA's own statistics, there have only been about 22 wildlife strikes involving geese in the past TEN years between LaGuardia and Kennedy airports, and the vast majority of those caused little to no damage. The one destroyed aircraft was the well-known "miracle on the Hudson", and as mentioned above, there was trouble with one of the engines before. Also, those were migratory geese, not the resident geese that are being slaughtered.

And a last note: these are urban wildlife living on some incredibly polluted waterways. I shudder to think what kinds of contaminants are in that meat. But it doesn't matter, right? They're being feed to the poor! Just as long as the people conducting the killings can feel good about some part of it, that's all that really matters. Sheesh.


Bird management

To reduce birdstrikes on takeoff and landing, airports engage in bird management and control. There is no single solution that works for all situations. Birds have been noted for their adaptability and control methods may not remain effective for long.[19] Management techniques include changes to habitat around the airport to reduce its attractiveness to birds.[16] Vegetation which produces seeds, grasses which are favored by geese,[20] and human-made food, a favorite of gulls, all should be removed from the airport area. Trees and tall structures which serve as roosts at night for flocking birds or perches should be removed or modified to discourage bird use.[21]

Other approaches try to scare away the birds using frightening devices, for example sounds, lights, pyrotechnics, radio-controlled airplanes, decoy animals/corpses, lasers, dogs etc.[21] Firearms are also occasionally employed. A successful approach has been using dogs, particularly Border collies, to scare away birds and wildlife.[22] Another alternative is bird capture and relocation. Trained falcons are sometimes used to harass the bird population, as for example on John F. Kennedy International Airport.[16] At Manchester Airport in England the usual type of falcon used for this is a peregrine falcon/lanner falcon hybrid, as its flight range covers the airport without straying too far. An airport in New Zealand uses electrified mats to reduce the number of worms that attracted large numbers of sea gulls.[16]