Latimer: Speak out against Wildlife Service's Bird Slaughter
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Latimer: Speak out against Wildlife Service's Bird Slaughter

July 26, 2019

To the Editor:

County Executive George Latimer is celebrating his tax hike that will save parkland parking lots and is meeting with locals residing near the airport who don’t like the noise, along with several other community efforts. That’s all very nice, but when it comes to responding to citizens’ concerns about airport “wildlife management” offi cials going way beyond their reach to kill birds as far away as Greenburgh, or the recent secret, shameful geese slaughter in the Town of Mamaroneck – which many people were upset to learn about, as well – he is silent.

Indeed, he refuses to be involved in any animal compassion issues, and in 2019 this is surprising to say the least.

This is especially troubling because, as a senator, Latimer authored a bill to restrict the misnamed and unchecked Wildlife Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture government agency responsible for both the airport and Mamaroneck killings, as well as literally millions more. Such bills tend to “die in committee.” Now that Latimer can actually make a profound difference in this latest unannounced, unnecessary bird slaughter – a troubling incident that had been stopped here years ago without recurring, which now shocked a huge amount of humane, decent people – he is silent.

Wildlife Services is staffed by hunters per laws enacted more than 100 years ago; non-hunters cannot apply. This guarantees a lethal outcome for wildlife. WS prefers the complete slaughter method because it guarantees them a constant income as more birds return, as opposed to far more effective, less costly non-lethal deterrents, which even “Miracle on the Hudson” Captain Sullenberger prefers.

This is the season when birds are molting and flightless; WS chooses this time to catch them and gas them.

Toward the end of the last administration, we discovered that WS was disregarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s five-mile range recommendation for bird slaughters. We had inquired after several Greenburgh residents were horrifi ed to discover a mass bird killing at a local lake; this turned out to have been done by WS’ “airport wildlife management” program. We then found out they were ignoring the FAA guidelines and in fact killing birds in a seven-mile radius.

Greenburgh Supervisor Feiner graciously weighed in on behalf of humane methods. Latimer staunchly refused to say one word or intervene at all, despite knowing about WS’s disreputable operation, and refused to grant us a meeting about it, to include pilot specialists and other experts knowledgeable on methods using modern, superior nonlethal technology.

When we learned of the recent Wildlife Services’ geese killing done with the consent of the Town of Mamaroneck. We asked Latimer to at least make a statement. Unlike previous administrations, he wouldn’t even respond. Similarly, a promise by his offi ce to ban circuses on county property suddenly never existed.

Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Don’t turn your back on them, Mr. Latimer – we need our county executive to be a strong beacon of hope for even the most helpless among us. While you are saving parking lots, noisy airports and Playland, also please save some living, breathing sentient animals who absolutely have no voice but feel joy and sorrow like we do, love their babies like we love ours, and have a right to share this earth.

We hope, in future humane efforts, that Mr. Latimer becomes the responsive official he could be by using his powerful office for truly silent victims, as he does for all other inhabitants of our beautiful county.

Kiley Blackman
Founder, Animal Defenders of Westchester 

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