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The goose is cooked by city’s airspace clearing plan

Gesse take a dip in the World's Fair Marina near LaGuardia Airport. The city's DEP is planning to control the population near the airspace.
By Ivan Pereira

The geese that have posed problems for the pilots at Queens’ two airports will be cooked, but New Yorkers won’t be the ones to enjoy the meal.

The city Department of Environmental Protection announced that it will be shipping Canada geese from areas within a 7-mile radius of LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports to a slaughtering plant in Pennsylvania to help clear the airspace.

Last year the department was the target of a huge outcry from the public when it gassed the birds and dumped their corpses in a landfill. Opponents contended the geese meat could be donated to food banks.

A DEP spokesman said the department cannot donate the geese meat because the state has not finalized the regulatory structure for giving away the food while the culling plans are being drawn out this year, so it made a deal with Pennsylvania, which already has such guidelines in place.

DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov said the meat will be donated to food banks in that state.

“While this is clearly a sensitive topic, we wanted to ensure that our efforts to enhance public safety will also help those in need,” Sklerov said in a statement.

The spokesman added that if the department enacted another geese culling next year, the meat would be donated to city food banks.

The exact details of the initiative are still being worked out, but it is slated for this summer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting surveys at sites within 7 miles of the airports to determine the scope of this year’s population reduction.

Following the crash landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River two years ago, which was caused by a bird strike in the plane’s engine, the city has been actively trying to control the bird population around the airports.

During the first seven months of 2009, there were 153 bird strikes at both Queens airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The city remains committed to protecting the flying public from bird strikes near New York City airports,” Sklerov said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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