Friday, November 26, 2010


(Photo: New arrivals of migratory ducks at the Reservoir in Central Park over past few days. Still awaiting the migratory geese)

Ah, 'tis the season like mad!

It is "Black Friday" today, the traditional day when millions of people hit the stores to cash in on the latest bargains, high tech devices and to hopefully find gifts that don't end up in drawers or on the endless recycled tract of "regifting."

Meanwhile, advocates for animals are still reeling from the expose done on ABC this week of the horrifying conditions at our city animal pounds or (regarding the Canada geese issue) lamenting the sad compromises that came out last week's community meeting for "management" of the geese at Prospect Park.

As noted, for those of us who love the geese and want safe sanctuary for them in our city parks, the idea they will be harassed and chased off by trained Border Collies is not what we "want" but what we reluctantly have to support in order to prevent something far worse: the roundups and gassings of thousands of geese which have occurred over the past several years around the city and are contracted for (with USDA) in 2011.

The real problem with any of these cruelties is that the animal advocacy movement is split in so many different directions and on so many different issues, it makes it impossible for us to be a powerful force on any one issue.

Most people active on animals these days are scurrying to try and rescue those dogs and cats condemned to die in our local pounds. But, such efforts are usually all-consuming and deplete important resources (both human and otherwise) from going towards other, equally important issues, such as factory farming of animals and the slaughter of wildlife.

For that reason, I personally have chosen to focus on wildlife over the past several months, specifically, the vilification and slaughter of the Canada geese in New York.

But, as noted, even that has not been easy.

Though relatively easy to get 100 people to show up for a rally or sign on to a Facebook page, it is not easy to maintain the focus and perseverance necessary to affect real and significant change.

I think the real problems these days are diversion and ironically (in these days of high tech "connection") disconnection.

As said, animal advocates are split and overwhelmed with too many issues. If you are an advocate for animals, your email box contains at least 100 emails a day about all kinds of atrocities harming or destroying animals. It is easy to lose your ability to focus on one animal injustice issue before something else comes into your email box demanding immediate and "urgent" attention.

Meanwhile, the rest of our culture is more plugged in with gadgets and 'things" than what is actually happening around us whether it be the planet itself, the animals and wildlife living on it or even the people and family around us.

Recently, on our geese FB page a poster speculated that roundups and goose gassings might have actually occurred at Prospect Park in 2009 as a large group of goslings he saw one day in June were, according to the witness, gone the next day. But, there are no other witnesses to corroborate the story and the only way to know now if goose gassings occurred at PP in 2009 is to do a Freedom of Information Request.

What that says to me is that not enough people are taking the time to actually observe what is going on around them, whether that be in our public parks or elsewhere.

How could 30 or 40 flightless goslings disappear in a highly trafficked park and no one notice or question?

I of course go with my dogs to Central Park everyday. While I cannot pretend to be any kind of "expert" on every wild animal or bird in the park, I do try to be observant. I think I would notice if a large group of flightless geese or goslings suddenly disappeared.

But, I don't know that the same is true of most people who go to the park routinely.

Most of the people I see in the park these days are exercise enthusiasts. There are literally thousands of runners and cyclists all over the roadways and most of the paths, day and night, any time of the year.

So intent are these people in getting so many miles in, that one doubts they notice anything at all around them. Most of the trees could probably disappear and they would not notice.

In saying these things, I don't mean to sound critical of those making exercise a priority in their lives. I love to walk and swim and view exercise important for physical and mental well-being.

I just don't think it should entirely block out and/or take over almost everything else, including one's surroundings.

I feel the same way about electronic gadgets and "things." Sure, it is nice to have computers, cell phones, IPads or Wii games, but at what real price?

If you are suddenly telling your mother that she should "text message" you, rather than calling or visiting, perhaps something is wrong. If you are running ten miles a day or constantly buried on Facebook or Twitter and can't remember the last time you actually did anything meaningful with your spouse, kids or friends, then something is wrong.

I think, in short, though very "connected" to gadgets and personal fitness and appearance, we as a culture are very disconnected from real life so to speak and that which immediately surrounds us and has meaning. That cannot, under any stretch of the imagination be a good thing ultimately for animals, humans or even the planet.

And so yes, while millions of people hit the stores today to shop for still more "things and gadgets" I will be heading over to Central Park a little later to surround myself with what little wildlife we still have left in our parks.

The migratory ducks are starting to arrive at the Reservoir in recent days (still awaiting the migratory Canada geese). There is a small gaggle of geese at Turtle Pond. And of course, the "barnyard brigade" -- Joey and BradAgelina over at Harlem Meer.

As for this upcoming Christmas, I cannot think of a single "thing" I either want or need, other than peace for the geese, actual care for the animals in our shelters and to be able to spend some time with my married adult daughter rather than to have to "text message" her. -- PCA

No comments: