“I spoke to a construction worker that said five of the…
By Sophia Chang
A gaggle of Canadian geese that made a traffic-stopping appearance on the Long Island Expressway near the Cross Island Parkway during evening rush hour June 16 have been spotted in the area again.
“I spoke to a construction worker that said five of the seven geese were on Northern Boulevard” Monday morning, said Michael Pastore, director of field operations for the Animal Care and Control of New York, a non-profit organization contracted by the city’s Department of Health that led last week’s goose chase.
Pastore said his organization was not mobilized into action by Monday’s sighting because the geese were not impeding traffic. “We even offered our assistance … but the construction worker said that it wasn’t necessary because they had peeked their heads out just a little,” he said.
“At this point we’re not going to take further action but to maintain communication with the construction workers out there,” Pastore said.
On the evening of June 16 traffic came to a halt on the LIE when seven geese wandered onto the expressway, according to the Breaking News Network, and stayed put for nearly 20 minutes, creating an impromptu road block.
“People are not going to run them over. They stop short; they don’t know which way they will go, and there’s a chain effect with rubberneckers, onlookers. They’re going to cause a complete stop,” Pastore said.
Though the geese were eventually ushered off the road by construction workers in the direction of the nearby Alley Pond Environmental Center, animal experts wanted to ensure they would not return and spent all Thursday and part of Friday looking for the geese in the surrounding marshland. But they had no success.
“We went into the nearby marsh area to see if they were going to come back out,” Pastore said. “On Thursday and Friday we did a check during rush hour.” He added, “There were no signs of them.”
Pastore said Canadian geese were not endangered in any way and called them a “borderline nuisance.”
Nick Maglaras, president of Goose Control Inc., a private company on hand to assist with the capture of the geese, said the birds, originally part of a species that migrated every year to the Arctic, are now native to parts of New York City and vicinity.
“These geese are non-migratory. They don’t migrate at all,” he said. “They live here on Long Island. You could take them away from here and they would come back. These birds are all imprinted here through artificial means.”
Pastore said he thought the wandering geese were confused by the construction around that part of the expressway. “The area where (the geese) were crossing, they’ve been doing heavy construction in the past couple of years, and they’ve added and deleted roadways to allow construction.”
He speculated that the geese “probably came from the nearby park area and walked down and probably walked right onto the ramp because those roads didn’t exist last year.”
Pastore noted that this type of traffic interference by geese was rare. “This is something that almost never occurs.”
But Maglaras said he anticipated similar incidents in the future because many of the geese in the area were losing their feathers in an annual post-reproduction process called molting, and thus they cannot fly until their long flight feathers grow back.
“That’s why these guys were walking. They couldn’t fly because they were molting. The birds (on the expressway) had definitely lost their feathers,” he said. “They’ll grow their feathers back by mid-July, but usually the birds don’t know they can fly again until the end of July.”
Maglaras thought the birds ended up on the expressway because they were hungry. “The birds can’t fly so they walk to their food source; they prefer to eat grass,” he said. “I think these birds were scared out on the highway as they walked — maybe by a dog coming.”
He recommended that the Department of Transportation erect a fence along the expressway where geese are known to walk.
“In order to avoid this happening again, they should run a temporary barrier along the southbound Cross Island Parkway along the footpath before you get to the LIE,” Maglaras said.
“I think it would be a good idea to set up a barrier for about a month” until the geese are able to fly again, he said.
Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.