Sometimes the most powerful thing any of us can do for animals is to open our eyes and look at what is happening to them.
That is exactly what David Karopkin, and the members of the group he founded, Goosewatch NYC, have committed themselves to. When they receive alerts, whether by voicemail, text, or email, this army of caring folk head out to where they’ve been told the USDA is on hand in New York City’s parks to kill geese. Ever since a 400 goose massacre that followed the famed 2009 emergency landing in the Hudson River by a jet that been disabled after it collided with two geese, the USDA — which has a goose control contract with the City — has been on a mission to kill.
What do these goosewatchers do? It’s pretty simple. They find out where the killing is taking place, generally after dawn until about noon, they show up, and they record. They may not be able to do anything to stop what’s going on in that minute, but by shining a light on the cruelty, and the sheer callousness of the killing — and the innocence and desperation of these animals — people who care about animals can, in fact, do so much. The USDA hides behind the claim that they are just fixing a problem, and that everything is okay because the killing is humane. Tell that to the geese and goslings who are shipped miles in cages so that they can be slaughtered for food. The reason? People were upset at out-and-out extermination, so, as always, edibility is now trotted out as the cover for cruelty.
We all know that lethal solutions to animal “problems” will always be the default selection unless someone speaks up, makes a ruckus, gets some press. And more press. And more press. Only then will officials start to get serious about using solutions that do more than create the illusion that they are protecting people. They will never find and use real solutions, that will protect both animals and people, until someone says something. Until someone bears witness.