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June 24, 2011 / V A Nichols

Who will stop the Birmingham Airport

Bird lovers protest killing of geese at Birmingham’s East Lake, other parks

Published: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:14 PM     Updated: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:41 PM
Thomas Spencer -- The Birmingham News By Thomas Spencer — The Birmingham News
Canada geese.JPGTwo Canada geese cruise a Birmingham area pond in this file photo. (The Birmingham News/Joe Songer)
BIRMINGHAM, Alabama –Bird lovers are crying fowl over the removal and extermination of geese from parks near the airport by the Birmingham Airport Authority.
 Though primarily targeting Canada geese, which airport authority officials say can be a danger for planes taking off or landing at the nearby airport, 131 domestic geese, and three  Muscovy ducks were swept up in the dragnet along with 113 Canada geese.
Victoria Nichols, an East Lake resident and photographer, said she didn’t understand why the domestic geese and ducks were removed and wondered why the public was not aware of the plan. As a frequent visitor to the park, she had been photographing the birds and their goslings in recent weeks.
 “A lot of people are having lots of questions. It is troublesome that the citizens were not aware. Where was the public notification?” Nichols said.
According to Airport Authority spokeswoman Toni Herrera-Bast, the operation was carried out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services Wednesday evening and early morning Thursday from three surrounding parks with the permission of the Birmingham Park and Recreation department. Nichols said there are still about 50 Canada geese at East Lake park and but only a handful of other waterfowl remain.
 “All the baby chicks are gone,” she said.
Herrera-Bast the domestic geese were also removed because they serve to attract the Canada Geese to the park. She said the program will continue until the wildlife hazards are eliminated. This is an effort that is going on nationwide and provoked protests elsewhere too.
“The Canada geese were the cause of the forced landing of US Airways flight 1549 into the Hudson River,” Herrera-Bast said. “These geese are a direct threat to the airport and the domestic geese are an indirect threat to aviation.”
The meat from the harvested fowl will be donated to the United Way Community Food Bank, Herrera-Bast said.
According to information on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website, approximately 1,900 pairs of giant Canada geese have been released into 47 counties of Alabama since 1981. These adaptable non-migratory birds were used in stocking programs because they readily reproduce even in areas of high human disturbance. However, here and elsewhere the birds are often considered a nuisance because of their aggressiveness and prolific pooping.

© 2011 al.com.

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