MEDIA RELEASE: In Defense of Animals Grants First Ever Golden Goose Award to LION

MEDIA RELEASE: In Defense of Animals Grants First Ever Golden Goose Award to LION

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (April 15, 2022)In Defense of Animals’ National Goose Protection Coalition is honored to grant its first-ever Golden Goose Humane Community Award to Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION). Founder, President, and Director of Campaigns John Di Leonardo has accepted the award on behalf of LION. The National Goose Protection Coalition issues the Golden Goose Humane Community Award as its highest honor for an outstanding humane approach to resolve conflicts with geese.

Images of LION’s founder John Di Leonardo and the award can be viewed and downloaded here: ​​

“Our National Goose Protection Coalition is thrilled to present our prestigious award to LION for its successful efforts to resolve conflicts with geese humanely, with a focus on nonlethal methods and on working cooperatively with decision-makers to ensure the safety of geese and other animals in the region,” said Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals. “John Di Leonardo is the driving force behind LION and we’re delighted that he has accepted the Golden Goose Award for the organization.”

Since 2013, LION has demonstrated consistent successful efforts to protect geese in the Long Island region and beyond. Achievements include rescuing injured and abused geese, holding vigils for geese who were cruelly massacred by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), recognizing school districts that adopted humane goose policies, exposing and shutting down backyard slaughter operations, erecting billboards that urged people “to keep animals of your plate,” and convincing municipalities to terminate USDA contracts to kill geese and use nonlethal goose stewardship strategies instead. 

LION has helped municipalities to implement the following nonlethal strategies: egg addling, habitat modification, coyote decoys, harassment techniques, goose poop clean-up programs. LION has also celebrated a host of victories for other animals, from ducks to deer. (See notes below for details.)

In Defense of Animals’ National Goose Protection Coalition has issued a Golden Goose Award to John di Leonardo of LION. Images: In Defense of Animals

"My team and I are proud to be recognized for rescuing geese strapped with fireworks, shot by hunters, and slated for death by the thousands from federal contract killers paid by our hard-earned tax dollars,” said John Di Leonardo, an anthrozoologist and President of Long Island Orchestrating for Nature. “Receiving the inaugural Golden Goose Award ahead of Easter is a welcome light during a dark time in waterfowl rescue when we're getting ready to rescue countless baby waterfowl abandoned after the holiday and cruel school science experiments."

In Defense of Animals’ National Goose Protection Coalition issues Golden Goose Awards to honor good deeds and recognize humane efforts by individuals toward waterfowl. The coalition was formed in 2019 to help concerned citizens stop goose cruelty in their communities.

Learn more and find nonlethal goose stewardship strategies at:


### NOTES ###

LION’s Accomplishments for geese 2013 - 2022:


LION successfully urged the town of North Hempstead to tear up a signed contract with the USDA to kill 600 geese within the municipality. The town now uses a combination of harassment and habitat modification.


LION convinced the Lake Ronkonkoma Advisory Board to reject a pitch by the USDA and DEC to kill 200 geese on the lake. LION now works with county officials and Cornell to oil eggs around the lake and surrounding areas. 


LION met with officials in Brightwaters to discuss coexisting with geese and humane, nonlethal management methods. Brightwaters agreed not to kill any geese and pursued egg oiling instead. 


LION held a vigil after more than 80 geese were "mistakenly" rounded up by the USDA at a Baldwin park. The USDA called the massacre an "error" and LION condemned the agency in the press for its carelessness and cruelty. 

LION rescued a goose who had fireworks duct-taped to him and offered a reward for information leading to the perpetrator(s).

LION rescued and released a goose who was shot through the neck with a crossbow bolt.


LION published an essay entitled "Waterfowl abandonment: an anthropogenic disaster for native & non-native birds alike" in the South Shore Audobon Society newsletter and the Long Island Sierra Club newsletter.

LION exposed an 8-year tradition of geese massacres on Islip UFSD property and garnered a commitment from the superintendent and school board to place a moratorium on lethal management while pursuing humane and nonlethal harassment and poop cleanup methods instead. 

LION met with the Mayor of Cornwall-on-the-Hudson and garnered a commitment to use only humane and nonlethal harassment methods in the municipality. LION donated three coyote decoys to the village's efforts. 

LION awarded South Huntington UFSD our inaugural Humane School District of the Year award for committing to use only humane, nonlethal geese management methods and for working with us to safely relocate tens of thousands of fishes and amphibians during a construction project. 


LION saved a goose and 16 who was suffering from bumblefoot and an extreme case of angel wing from an illegal backyard slaughter operation in Forest Hills and worked with the authorities to cite the perpetrators and shut down the operation:

LION recently rescued a goose who was abandoned at a dumpster outside of a nursery school:

LION was awarded a contract by Suffolk County to expand its egg oiling efforts in Ronkonkoma following our campaign to prevent the massacre of geese there in 2017.

In response to the avian flu outbreak, LION has this week erected 6 billboards, including two depicting a gosling, in Syosset, Hicksville, Deer Park, Massapequa, and Brookaven reading "Animal Exploitation Breeds Killer Diseases: Keep animals off your plate and out of your classroom." (Pictures in the Dropbox.)

LION's victories for other animals:

  • Barred a fowl slaughterhouse from opening in Islip, sparing ~40,000 ducks and chickens annually from slaughter
  • Defeated a SeaQuest Aquariums application to build a $5 million aquarium in Oyster Bay, sparing untold thousands of animals, including waterfowl, from a company that had its license suspended in numerous states and had hundreds of animals die on its watch
  • Led the campaign that ended Cole Bros. Circus, an organization that violated the Endangered Species Act and hired chronic violators of the Animal Welfare Act
  • Ended wild animal acts in Northport, Brookhaven, Levittown, Islip, Bellmore, and West Hempstead
  • Worked with legislators to ban circuses from performing with wild animals in New York City
  • Stopped the massacre of 800 geese in North Hempstead and on Lake Ronkonkoma and saved ~5,000 deer from being killed by USDA contract killers on the East End
  • Blocked rodeos in Brookhaven and Riverhead
  • Facilitated the closure of a fur store in Merrick
  • Rescued a cat from an upstate New York product testing facility in partnership with Beagle Freedom Project and two pigs from an Iowa factory farm in partnership with PETA and Arthur's Acres Animal Sanctuary
  • Rescued dozens of birds from New York City live slaughter markets
  • Facilitated the rescue of domestic ducks in eight states and provinces
  • Received awards and recognitions from the New York State Humane Association, the Humane Society of the United States, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, In Defense of Animals, the Suffolk County SPCA, the Long Island Herald, and the Long Island Pulse
  • Advocated for animals in more than 300 publications, including The New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, A&E, Inside Edition, Newsday, and many more



In Defense of Animals, Lisa Levinson,, (215) 620-2130
LION, John Di Leonardo,, (516) 592-3722

In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization based in Marin county, California with over 250,000 supporters and a 39-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns, as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi.

Long Island Orchestrating for Nature (LION) is the leading animal advocacy organization on Long Island, campaigning for animals from New York City to Montauk and working to make Long Island a kinder and safer place for all beings.


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