The United States Fowl-Murder Agency was just glad to feel useful.
Focusing on several geese hotspots across the city, officials from the Department of Agriculture and NYC's Parks & Recs team "rounded-up" 1,235 fowl and shipped them off to be gassed, probably by that weird kid you grew up with around the time all those cats went missing. Just to be sure that their younglings wouldn't eventually seek revenge on the bird-wranglers, the government also suffocated 1,739 eggs by coating them with oil. This would have been, like, the third saddest episode of Parks & Recreation.
So, that was kind of a bummer, but they were solving the problem of bird strikes, right? Yes ... except it soon transpired that the birds who brought down Flight 1549 weren't local residents, just a migratory species that happened to be passing through. Considering that the geese population of NYC is reportedly within the millions, killing a few thousand did precisely shit for their already-slim odds of getting bird-struck. Basically, the most tangible consequence was making the New York Post happy:
New York Post
May God have mercy on their souls.
Newly Liberated Holocaust Survivors Died From Overeating
OK, picture this: You're a soldier liberating people who have spent up to several years being starved for no reason other than cruelty and madness. You have rations of meat, cheese, chocolates, and biscuits for yourself. What do you do? You share it around, right?
Congratulations: You just killed a whole bunch of people. This is exactly what happened at the end of World War II.
See, whilst you'd expect food to be the answer to any problem involving not having food, feeding a severely-starved person with nutrition-packed foodstuffs can cause them to suffer from "refeeding syndrome" -- basically, a condition caused when the body adapts to starvation and gets overloaded with a deluge of nutrient-rich food. This isn't a mild condition, either. It stresses the body so badly that patients can suffer side effects including hypertension, heart failure, seizures, coma, and straight-up death. And those are some of the less disgusting ways to go. You know, because these people hadn't gone through enough already.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
If you zoom in, the aforementioned "Atomic Plague" headline is light reading for them.
Without any official guidance on how to re-nourish Holocaust victims, they'd be given rations or gorge on whatever they could find, and become seriously ill or die. As one inmate described the scene, the distribution of rations "produced a tremendous death rate, instantly. People were eating that stuff and got diarrhea, and there was nothing in the world to stop it ... It was like poison." Some prisoners who'd been doctors in their previous life were even seen wandering the camps warning their fellow inmates not to eat the abundant pork rations that were being distributed, and probably looked like the biggest jerks in existence.
The crisis was eventually ended by calling a halt to the willy-nilly distribution of food. Inmates were instead moved onto a diet of thin soups, followed by a slow-but-steady progression to rations and real food. It's hard to put a figure on how many prisoners died from refeeding syndrome/diarrhea, but one estimate places the figure at 2,000 people. We don't know what the take-home message is from this, but it for sure adds a whole new darkness to the saying "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a newsletter about depressing history, if you're into that sort of thing.
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