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USDA Says More Than 80 Geese 'Humanely Euthanized' At Milburn Pond In Baldwin After Mix-Up: 'They Were Very, Very Sorry About That'

BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -An administrative error by a federal agency led to the mistaken killing of nearly 100 geese at a Long Island pond.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, Milburn Pond in Baldwin is normally filled with waterfowl, but not anymore. Visitors can't help but wonder: Where have all the geese gone?

"There were a lot. Now, there's, like, the ducks," one visitor said.

Nature enthusiasts noticed it too, and soon there was an explanation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Nassau County, admitting a misunderstanding and error.

In June, the federal agency removed and killed 86 geese for airplane safety close to John F. Kennedy International Airport. But Milburn Park is not close to the airport -  it's 10 miles away. Geese are only rounded up in parks less than seven miles from the airport, like one in North Woodmere.

"They indicated in a letter, official letter to us, that they did make a mistake. They were very, very sorry about that, and we made sure that we rescinded their permit right away," said Nassau County Deputy County Executive Brian Schneider.

Schneider says Nassau does not condone euthanizing geese. They favor non-lethal methods when a park is nowhere near an airport. When it is, they've given the USDA access to prevent bird strikes.

The USDA says the geese were "humanely euthanized" and the meat provided to local food banks.

But, there is outrage.

"Apologies are meaningless to the 86 lives, the mothers and their babies that were slaughtered right here. I mean, there are community members who live along this pond here who are heartbroken," said John Di Leonardo of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature.

But managing geese is a challenge.

"The one silver lining, if you could say, out of this is that we're revisiting that protocol and we are going to be rolling out a public awareness," said Nassau County Legislator Debra Mule.

Much of the blame, say officials, is on the well-meaning public. Feeding geese only increases their population and keeps them local year-round.

A spokesperson for the USDA told CBS2, "We will be taking additional steps in the future to ensure this doesn't occur again."

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