New York (CNN) -- In an effort to control the city's goose population and improve aviation safety, authorities slaughtered 1,676 Canada geese across New York last summer, according to a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report.
Officials from the agency's Wildlife Service eliminated 89% of the geese that reside within 7 miles of New York's two major airports after a 2009 incident in which birds flew into the engines of US Airways Flight 1549, the report said.
The collision forced the pilot, Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, to make a dramatic landing in the Hudson River.
The report -- released in November -- called New York's estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Canada geese "a significant aviation safety hazard," describing the population as "five times the amount that most people would find socially acceptable."
But animal rights activists cry foul.
"I fly out of the New York airports and I want to be safe just as much as the next person," said Stephen Zawistowski, a spokesman for The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "But there are a combination of nonlethal alternatives such as habitat management and reproduction control that can be implemented to prevent the need for a mass euthanasia of Canada geese."
The number of geese euthanized in 2010 was up 441 from the previous year, the report said.
The birds are generally rounded up when their feathers molt, rendering them unable to fly, said USDA Wildlife Services spokeswoman Carol Bannerman. They are then transported in crates and euthanized, she said.
The practice began in 2004 at New York's Riker's Island -- used as one of the city's primary prison complexes -- due to it's proximity to LaGuardia Airport.