NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The director of a Pennsylvania food bank said Wednesday he would be happy to receive meat from Canada geese culled in New York City to promote aviation safety.
"We have received wild goose meat in the past," said Kendall Hanna, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank in Harrisburg. "The meat is valued by our clientele and moves out of there very, very quickly."
But the animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is urging New York officials to find a non-lethal solution to the goose problem.
Goose eradication was authorized in New York City after U.S. Airways Flight 1549 made a miraculous landing in the Hudson in 2009. The plane had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport when a flock of geese disabled the engines on Jan. 15, 2009. Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III safely glided into a water landing, and all 155 passengers and crew members aboard were rescued.
Nearly 1,700 Canada geese were rounded up and gassed in the city last year. To the dismay of many city residents and hunters, the geese were dumped in a landfill and not used for food.
City officials decided in response that this year's geese would be sent to food banks. Pennsylvania was chosen because it already has an established protocol for processing and distributing slaughtered geese.
New York state has recently developed guidelines for testing and processing goose meat, and officials said that geese culled in the city likely will be fed to needy New Yorkers starting next year.
Details of the 2011 goose cull have not been finalized. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has surveyed goose populations within 7 miles of the city's airports and will make recommendations, city Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Farrell Sklerov said.
While Canada goose meat seems exotic to urban dwellers, it is regularly consumed by hunters and their families in New York state and elsewhere. The free-range meat is high in protein.
Between 50,000 and 100,000 Canada geese are bagged by the state's hunters every year, state Department of Environmental Conservation spokeswoman Lori Severino said. State health officials recommend that people eat no more than two meals per month of wild waterfowl, based on data indicating that the birds may have higher levels of contaminants such as PCBs than are found in farmed animals.
Hunting advocates say Canada geese are good eating.
"It's not like chicken," said Jackson Landers, a Virginia-based hunting instructor with a blog called the Locavore Hunter. "It's more like beef. You really mustn't overcook it."
Landers said he was angered that the geese culled in New York were discarded last year.
"It just seems immoral to throw that away," he said. "It's a waste of perfectly good food, of healthy food, and that rubs me the wrong way."
But to PETA, the slaughter of the geese is what's immoral.
PETA has sent a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging him to call off the planned goose cull. The group argues that as long as conditions in city parks remain attractive to geese, more of the birds will simply move in and fill the niches vacated by those that are killed.
"Killing geese isn't just inhumane -- it's ineffective," PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk said. "We're asking the agencies involved to hold off until a long-term solution is implemented that everyone -- including the geese -- can live with."
PETA has offered to donate vegan food to the Pennsylvania food banks that are expecting donations of goose meat.
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