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Let's Control Ourselves Instead of the Canada Geese

May 23, 2005 | Geese

By Priscilla Feral
Opinion Greenwich Comment, Greenwich Time Greenwich, CT
(Published: May 17, 2005)

The town of Greenwich is in the midst of deciding whether to kill Canada geese. It has already applied for permission to round up 200 geese and goslings in late June, at Bruce Park, at Byram Park, at Binney Park, at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, and at the Griffith E. Harris Memorial Golf Course. A Friends of Animals representative participated in a meeting on the 11th of May to decide the birds' fate. After our representative insisted that lethal responses be removed from discussion, we were not invited to join a committee that will continue the talks. Yet other animal welfare groups -- groups that did not object to the idea that potentially lethal methods might remain as a backup plan -- were invited to join that commitee.

That committee should know that roundups are a nasty business. At dawn, cordoned off from the public view, workers separate goslings from parents, and corral the birds into pens. Videos of Seattle and New Jersey kills show United States Department of Agriculture workers forcing bound, panicked geese into portable gas chambers. In some cases, geese have been killed by gunshot or by hand. Predictably, geese repopulate the area over the months to come.

If we think there are too many geese in our midst, there are better answers. With thought, planning, and effort, Greenwich parks can be ecologically restored, to address the bird imbalance naturally.

Experts report that increased Canada goose nesting in the northeast signifies ecological degradation, caused not by geese, but by human landscaping trends. That's because adult geese like the flat surfaces we humans build. Those surfaces, with their open views, help geese to identify intruders and escape predators, especially during the nesting season.

Thus, experts recommend landscape modification as one of the most effective and environmentally sound methods for reducing Canada goose nesting and feeding. Habitat modification doesn't turn a park into a forest; it simply means strategic placement of bushes, shrubs, small meadows to block line of sight geese require for safety from predators. (Friends of Animals will be presenting landscaping guides to Greenwich selectmen.)

Unfortunately, Greenwich parks supervisor Joseph Siciliano and Selectmen Lash and Crumbine continue to pooh-pooh the idea of landscape changes, saying simply that Greenwich prefers its parks manicured. Yet as long as the parks remain unmodified, there will be geese.

Signs in parks, advising residents to allow nesting geese ample space, and not to feed them, can prevent perceived conflicts. Parents should be advised to instruct young children not to chase geese, or to get too close.

Sometimes the answers are as simple as housekeeping: raking golf courses, and proper, regular clean-up of business parks and marinas, athletic fields near low-lying waterways, and housing projects. For beaches, local maintenance professionals should simply rake the grounds.

Over the years, numerous experts -- even experts at the very agencies that propose killing projects as an easy first resort -- have made it clear that geese pose no health problems beyond those posed by other waste matter; all can be cleaned up together. Indeed, unless attacked or threatened, geese pose no threat to humans at all. Geese will bluff to protect their nests, but unprovoked physical attacks are rare.

In short, if we insist on creating an environment that attracts geese, it's our responsibility to maintain that property in a way that enables people to get through the two months of the year that geese are flightless and congregate there. By late summer, they're moving about and people stop complaining. That people are so intolerant of several weeks of goose droppings -- given the pressure the high human population has on the environment, mystifies us.

Concerned readers, please do call Greenwich officials to unveil the pressure group behind any goose-killing agenda, and suggest that people learn to share the landscape with Canada geese, swans and ducks.

Further, please tell Greenwich officials that the destruction of geese in one area where they congregate encourages other geese to occupy the temporary vacuum. The result is a myopic cycle of violence which we should oppose before it begins.

We can learn to live with geese. It's time to get away from a consumer's approach to native animals with whom we share territory, selecting which species we'll tolerate, when and how many. This results in cycles of exterminations, largely carried out away from the public eye. It is up to the majority to know, and to say "No."

Comments

It is amazing to me how we can just teach the children of our communities that when something is a problem we can kill it. In my little town of 14 streets, in Interlaken, New Jersey, the town officials decided with much secrecy to kill 81 geese. Many of the people on the town council have young children. I am sure they would not want their children to know their dirty little secret. The secret did get out after the kill, I managed to get it in the local papers and it stayed there for about 2 months with all the controversy it created. The voting public was not happy with the decision to kill the geese. The town falsified records to get the permit from the USDA. We have copies of the paperwork. They state that we had tried addling and culling, dogs and loud noises. The truth is nothing was ever done and the Mayor was quoted in the paper as saying such. I am appalled by the lack of humanity shown by this council and feel if there was so much secrecy and deception what else is there that is duplicitious in our local goverment.

I'm so shocked at all of this. I heard nothing of it and had no idea such things were taking place with geese. Very sad, indeed. I would think they could find more meaningful things to spend their time on. I agree with one of the comments above that it is ridiculous to kill these beautiful geese, because there are too many of them. I thought "nature" takes care of itself, so why kill them__It just makes no sense!

Why cant these geese be relocated, I have a home in Vermont where there is plenty of land, send them here, I'm sure we can find a solution other then continuing to murder these birds. Its inhumane to kill everything we think gets in our way. These creatures have as much right to love as we do. Shame on us !!!

In the early spring of 2009, the road I drive every morning to go to work hosts St. Albert's Priory on Carmelite Drive in Middletown, NY. It is a beautiful landscaping of open fields and a picturesque lake with an old-fashioned bridge. I observed flocks of geese that meandered these very fields. A few weeks later, low & behold there were many goslings surrounded by the adults as they kept watch over their young. As each day passed I observed the awkwardness of these babies grow from downey feathers into the displays of color like their parents. At this time in Monroe, NY there was an article in the Times Herlad Record newspaper stating that the resident geese were going to be removed, the eggs would be covered in oil, etc. in their bid to be rid of the geese. I also noticed this very flock of "babies" diminish every 2 - 3 days as well. Almost everyday the caretaker also was out on his tractor "mowing" the same grounds over and over again. One afternoon on my way home from work, I noticed a pickup truck, 2 men holding big nets, and, a dog. I also noticed the geese were scattered and visibly upset, honking. The next morning, I counted 36 babies, and much of the adult flock were gone. 2 weeks later, there was one gosling left. I wrote to the Priory, the Catholic Archdiocese in New York City, and many others in the interim and have never heard a reply. I always thought church grounds were exempt from this kind of cruelty, afterall, aren't we taught as children - "Thou shall not kill?" It was obvious what happened there, perhaps wandering feral cats might be able to get one or two, or even wandering dogs...but whole flocks? It's sad, that we, as superior intellects, those who frown on animals and say they are dumb can do such acts of cruelty to the innocents and chalk it up to "them" getting in our way. Animals were here first before we took over their land to build our homes & businesses. It's kind of like what happened to the American Indian and how they were, and, are made to live on reservations.

In five short months i have come to love Canada geese with a passion and have come to dislike many humans intensely including city, provincial, and federal government officials who I used to think protected these birds but find do not. Geese are just the sweetest most innocent creatures i can imagine. I think they have admirable characters and could teach us a lot..if we were teachable. I hate the secret 'goose control' methods used by this city, province, and country. when i go to the ponds i frequent i never know how many geese i will find or if i will find any. I think this city is presently putting stuff on the grass in parks the geese normally frequent as there are no geese in the grassy areas and last night i found my geese sitting and standing forlornly on a cement parking lot and meandering and poking through a pure dirt area even though there were two ponds and grassy areas nearby; they were not there. They looked like poor discouraged and perplexed little people who did not know where to go. It just breaks my heart and i am encouraged only by finding sites such as this that show me there are people who really love and care about the welfare of these persecuted beautiful birds. I am very emotional about them because they are so persecuted and mistreated. Please keep on fighting for them everybody.

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