Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seasons of the Witch

(Pictures: 1-- Chance, a feisty Pomeranian. 2-- A goose who is grateful there are feisty Pomeranians in the world.)
I am like some mad woman on a mission lately.

Trying to observe, spend time with and take as many photos and videos of Canada geese as possible.

Why is that?

I am not really sure.

Perhaps its because something in me fears that Canada geese will not be around five or ten years from now.

So, I am trying to gather up as much as I can while the opportunity still presents itself.

No matter what web site one goes to read articles or research information on Canada geese, there are almost always ads promoting "humane" ways to "get rid of nuisance geese."

And that constitutes the more positive stuff one finds about the geese these days.

At least 95% of the news articles on Canada geese in recent weeks are about the hunting of them.

The other 5% are mostly about "humane" ways to "manage" the geese or a goose shot and presumed to have drowned near a church gathering or another goose walking around with an arrow through his/her neck. I posted some of the articles to our Facebook page. But, were I to post all the hunting articles, people would presumably leave the FB page in droves. Such articles are not pleasant reading material.

The same is true of Canada geese if one goes to YouTube to search videos of them.

Most of the videos of geese are hunting or "calling" clips. (No, not the geese calling, but hunters trying to imitate them.)

The other day, I forced myself to watch a "featured" YouTube video of geese hunting in Wyoming.

It was totally disgusting.

Virtually ALL the geese flying in their familiar V formations were blown out of the skies. The numbers had to run into the hundreds, while the video makers, played Bon Jovi's (Shot Through the Heart and You're to Blame) "You Give Love a Bad Name" in the background.

I commented that this video gave humans a bad name.

I then posted the video to our FB page because its important for people to understand exactly what is happening right now with geese all over the country.

It is literally open season in every state on the bird, hunters call "honkers."

But, of course, some might argue that hunting is restricted to "only" the early or late fall.


So, lets look at the other seasons:

In winter, many animals die depending on the severity of the season and the difficulties in finding food when waters freeze over and snow covers the ground.

This past week, many fish and Canada geese perished in a severe hail storm that hit one of the Midwestern states. And we are barely into the fall.

Winter and nature can be cruel. Very cruel.

But, spring can be even crueler.

That is when human efforts such as harassment, nest destruction and egg addling can add to the woes of Canada geese at a time the birds might normally try to "recoup" from whatever losses and damages the species suffered over the fall and winter.

True, Canada geese are amazingly resilient, adaptable, prolific and they are among the most vigilant and protective parents on the planet.

But, can they truly regroup and proliferate when there is such widespread and coordinated efforts to prevent their offspring from being born? These efforts now span the entire country, from public parks to golf courses to farm lands to any areas where there are lakes, ponds, streams -- or Canada geese.

Then of course, there is the dreaded summer.

The four or five weeks when Canada geese cannot fly due to seasonal molting and thus become "sitting ducks."

And for those urban areas that cannot allow hunting and don't bother with the nest destruction or egg addling, there is the option of rounding up and gassing whatever Canada geese might be residing in a public park or other Metropolitan area.

In New York City's Prospect Park for example, USDA workers went in the wee hours of last July 8th, rounded up and gassed the park's ENTIRE Canada goose population: Three hundred and sixty five resident geese and goslings. Three migratory Canada geese identified from other states!

It apparently did not matter to city and park officials nor the USDA that a few of the geese were not resident to Prospect Park. Nor, did it matter that at least two of the geese were "favorites" of community members. The geese had names and had even garnered media attention. "Beaky" had a deformed beak due to a fishing line injury and "Target" had survived being shot with a bow and arrow. But, even these two "special" geese were not spared in the slaughter.

So, why should we believe that any geese will be spared now in this governmental and societal sweep to "rid" ourselves and the country of "nuisance geese?"

Not only do Canada geese have no safe place to go in these days of "mitigation," "management" and decimation of their species and offspring, but nor do they have a safe or peaceful day or season.

Last night, while photographing some of the geese at Harlem Meer, a group of adolescent boys came by waving broken tree branches at the geese. They attempted to hit the birds while chasing them into the water.

"What the HELL are you doing?" I yelled to them. "Leave them ALONE!"

The boys appeared startled that anyone would bother to admonish them about the "nuisance" geese and for a moment stared at me incredulously .

At that instant, one of my dogs started barking furiously at them and the boys took off running.

Small wonder that these bullies who were so "brave" at terrorizing defenseless geese, were themselves terrified by a fifteen pound Pomeranian!

And perhaps it is that way with all who want to vilify, bully, scapegoat, "witch hunt" and destroy the geese? Behind those mighty curtains of the great Oz, are there scared little entities who really don't know much about anything, least of all, Canada geese?

And, like the "tough" boys who ran threatening and waving sticks at the geese, do they too assume no one will care or will question what they do?

That only I could "sic" my Pomeranian on all of them.

"Good boy," I said to Chance last night.

The geese may not have a safe place or a safe season, but at least for a few hours, they had a safe night thanks to a feisty little Pomeranian dog. -- PCA


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