Why We Can’t Eat Slaughtered Geese

Video is canadian geese good to eat

Updated, Aug. 2 | The Canada goose, according to those in the know, tastes like a dark, tender cut of smoked chicken.

That’s Canada goose from elsewhere in the country, mind you, where birds killed as part of government plans to shrink the goose population are plucked, frozen and distributed to food pantries. Food banks in Pennsylvania, for example, received 900 pounds of goose meat this year. Geese were also donated this summer to food banks in Maryland and Oregon.

But in New York State, geese that were killed this month were double-bagged and thrown in landfills. Among them – the total numbers have not yet been released – were nearly 400 geese from Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

The mass goose kill in Prospect Park — the idea is to keep them from flying into the engines of jet planes — set off outrage on City Room, where many comments railed against the killings, but others wondered: If we must kill them, why don’t we feed them to the homeless?

Update, Aug. 2, 11:18 a.m. | The official answer to that question came from Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. He said that the state doesn’t have a protocol for testing the geese for toxins and has not figured out how best to process the meat.

New York, Mr. Sklerov wrote in an e-mail, doesn’t have “sufficient guidelines that pertain to the oversight of the safe preparation or donation of geese to food pantries or soup kitchens.”

A high-level official at the federal Department of Agriculture elaborated, saying that city and state officials have waited six years for the New York State Department of Health to report on the safety of New York bird meat.

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“We’re looking for a letter somewhere along the lines that says Canada geese are safe to eat, or that one should consume only a certain amount of Canada goose a month, kind of like the state does with fish,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Other states, however, haven’t had a problem with slaughtering the geese for food.

In central Oregon, the Bend Park and Recreation District convened public meetings on ridding Canada geese from city parks.

There, officials ultimately decided to kill 109 geese with carbon dioxide, which is how New York geese were killed this month. The gas doesn’t make the meat unsafe, according to a spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association, who said it was often used to stun poultry.

Don Horton, the executive director of the Bend park district, said the geese were sent to a slaughterhouse, where they were processed and smoked, at $15 a bird.

“For us, the cost was not exorbitant, but if you’re killing 2,000 birds, the cost gets interesting,” Mr. Horton said.

He said he was confused by New York’s stated concern that the birds might not be safe to eat. “These are the same geese hunted by hunters all the time,” he said.

In Pennsylvania, wildlife killed because it has been deemed a nuisance to crops or parks must be donated to food banks.

“The state permit states that the geese shall be donated to a food bank or a shelter – that is a requirement of the permit itself, so they have to abide by that, or they lose the permit,” said Jason DeCoskey, who oversees special permit enforcement for the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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Mr. DeCoskey said the Department of Agriculture had a contract with a plucking house in southern Pennsylvania.

Deer make up the bulk of wildlife killed, he said, and when they are, “the U.S.D.A. will automatically call to find out if there are any needy families nearby to get them the meat.”

But for some, donating the geese to food banks doesn’t make up for their deaths.

In central Oregon, where the killed geese provided more than 1,000 hot meals, residents lashed out against the food bank director for accepting the meat.

Patrick Kwan, the New York State director for the Humane Society of the United States, also disagreed with the gesture. “What they are trying to do is make an unnecessary act seem charitable,” he said.

In Oregon, Mr. Horton saw it another way.

“We knew all along that there was a lot of opposition and that taking the meat from the geese and using that meat to feed the hungry by donating it to these two food banks would temper the opposition,” he said.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>