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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 62.0° F  Fair
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Pilot questions Warner Park goose-kill rationale
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Jens Luebow has a unique perspective on the Madison Park Commission's decision to approve the killing of dozens of geese at Warner Park. He's a veterinarian and a self-described "animal conservationist." He's also a private pilot who's flown "thousands" of times from the Dane County Regional Airport over the last quarter century.

"I've never encountered any problem with geese," says Luebow, nor have other pilots he's spoken to. He says geese strikes are exceedingly rare, and there's no logic to targeting birds at Warner Park.

The Warner Park bird kill was requested by the airport, as part of a national risk-assessment mandate conducted after geese forced the emergency landing of a plane on the Hudson River in January 2009. The Park Commission promptly assented at its April 14 meeting, but is expected to discuss the issue further at its meeting next Wednesday, May 12.

Lowell Wright, the airport's environmental officer, says there were four occasions between 1990 and 2004 in which planes there were struck by geese, and a couple of other incidents involving cranes. He confirms that there has been no reported goose strikes here since 2004.

In 2007, wildlife officials banded 132 geese at Warner Park; nine of these were subsequently "dispatched" shot at the airport. Lowell says that's why Warner is being singled out as a goose-kill zone; others suspect a different motivation.

"It's a political thing," says Luebow. "There are people who don't like geese poop in the parks. So they try to get rid of the geese."

Parks Division spokeswoman Laura Whitmore disputes this, saying the kill plan was initiated by the airport, not the city, and "there was no discussion in the proposal or at the Park Commission meeting about goose droppings."

Next Wednesday's Park Commission meeting, appropriately at the Warner Park Community Recreation Center, begins at 6:30 p.m.

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