Press Releases

Monday, March 26, 2007
No. 25

Managing Central Park's Canada Goose Population With Environmentally-Safe , Humane Efforts

This April, the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation will pilot a one-month program using an environmentally-safe method to attempt to reduce the number of geese in Central Park. The first step of the process includes herding- but never touching or attacking- the geese with highly-trained border collies. Skilled trainers will lead two border collies in driving the geese away from the Park’s lawns and water bodies throughout the month of April. Parks Department Rangers and Central Park Conservancy staffers will supervise training and goose management.

"The Geese Police pilot project is an innovative and humane effort to manage the growing geese population in Central Park," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "As with all wildlife that inhabit or migrate through City parkland, Canada geese area protected from hunting and attack by humans. But their increasing presence on lawns and meadows can damage lawns and leaves them fouled by droppings. Their increased presence also poses environmental problems due to the high levels of nitrogen in geese droppings."

"To protect the landscapes of Central Park and health and safety of the public, we need to find humane and effective ways to deter the Canada geese population," says Douglas Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy.

Large flocks of resident Canada geese leave excessive goose droppings, resulting in large areas of landscape that are unavailable for public use and recreation. In Central Park, geese continually overgraze the grass around the Harlem Meer and its surrounding landscapes, increasing erosion. The high nitrogen content in goose droppings can alter water chemistry and produce algae that rob the water of oxygen, killing fish and other wildlife.

Bred to herd sheep, collies have a natural instinct to round up flocks of geese. By patrolling various areas of the Park, the geese will be encouraged to abandon the lawns and water. In conjunction with the border collies, public education is crucial. Feeding geese only encourages them to linger in public areas. Herding dogs and education are two methods of Canada goose management that are approved by the Humane Society and the USDA Office of Wildlife Services.

To deem its effectiveness in Central Park, Geese Police Inc. will pilot a month-long, 24-hour-a- day program. At the end of the month, the Central Park Conservancy and the Parks Department will determine its effectiveness in moving the geese and interacting with the public before extending the project.

Geese Police Inc. employs handlers specially trained to work with and properly control the dogs. Handlers are educated on the behavior of the Canada geese and their migratory, nesting and breeding habits. For more information, please visit Parks Department Rangers and Central Park Conservancy staffers will be available throughout the process to answer questions and oversee the interaction of Geese Police Inc. with the public.


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