Forest Hills residents cry ‘fowl’ over birds kept in deplorable conditions

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LION president John Di Lorenzo with a goose he was able to rescue from a home across from Forest Hills High School, where more than a dozen geese and ducks were living outdoors in poor conditions. (Photo courtesy of LION)

More than a dozen geese and ducks have been rescued from a Forest Hills home where they were kept illegally outdoors in deplorable conditions.

The Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION), the leading waterfowl rescue organization in the Northeast, and New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS), obtained the release of a domestic Embden goose and four Muscovy ducks from a residence across from Forest Hills High School, which were discovered lying on a bed of frozen feces and fed a diet of stale bread and moldy bagels. The rescuers returned to the home and were able to negotiate the release of 12 more waterfowl on Thursday evening, Jan. 13.

The large birds are now recovering at LION’s Riverhead animal shelter and are being treated by a veterinarian for severe wing deformities and staph infections attributed to their poor diet and lack of shelter.

“Animals, whether dogs or ducks, feel pain and suffer just like we do,” LION President John Di Leonardo said. “If we’re cold, they’re cold. Muscovy ducks are endemic to South and Central America and are especially prone to frostbite and hypothermia when exposed to our cold winters. LION is urging the public to contact us immediately if they see domestic ducks or geese abandoned in public parks or left outside without shelter, especially in New York City where it is illegal to house these sensitive animals.”

Concerned neighbors in Forest Hills had been calling 311 and lodging complaints with the 112th Precinct for months about the birds being kept in violation of NYC Health Code 161 for months without action before LION contacted the mayor’s office last week.

The geese were reportedly living in deplorable conditions. (Photo courtesy of LION)

The owners of the animals told rescuers they were eating them and would be taking most of them to a farm in Pennsylvania where they would be auctioned and killed. Di Leonardo informed them that the birds would need to be seen by a veterinarian prior to crossing state lines and that due to their condition, many of them would not receive the necessary veterinary certification.

NYCLASS executive director Edita Birnkrant said she was horrified to see the conditions the waterfowl were living in, especially in sub-freezing temperatures early in the week. She was further angered to learn from neighbors that this has been going on for years at the home.

“This situation highlights the need for the New York City Council to pass Code Blue legislation prohibiting residents from keeping animals outside in sub-freezing temperatures,” she said.

Once recovered at LION’s shelter, the rescued waterfowl, who are domestic and cannot be released to the wild, will be placed in reputable homes and sanctuaries where they will be loved and never eaten, Di Leonardo said.

For more information, visit LION’s website here.