Friday, November 19, 2010
Hard Choices and Dark Days For the Geese
The last couple of days have been difficult.
It was very hard sitting through the community meeting the other night and listening to the various methods that will be employed at Prospect Park in order to banish the geese.
I hate the idea that we cannot live peacefully with these mostly migratory birds for the relatively short times the geese stay in an area. I hate the reality that they are being banished from our parks and other locations. I hate the way they have been vilified and scapegoated. I hate the false and disparaging labels that have been laid on them.
But, most of all, I hate the gassings.
There are very hard "head or heart" choices here.
We who have grown to know, appreciate and even love the geese in our parks want to see them remain in peace and know safe sanctuary.
But, what we want is simply not reality.
The cold, hard facts is, that we do not have enough people on our side. We are far outnumbered by those who either hate the geese or have other things to do. Poor turnout the other night for the geese. Media generally not favorable towards geese and our Mayor seems to want them all dead.
Our culture seems to have little tolerance for animals these days.
At least 20 parks and other locations are on New York City/USDA contract list next summer for goose roundups and gassings, including Prospect Park. It now seems the ONLY way to even give these birds a fighting chance is to be sure they are not at Prospect Park in June.
The other parks are not doing anything (with exception of Central Park which employs the dog and egg oiling methods and is NOT on list for goose killings). The geese in these other places are doomed, unless the locations can be pressured into also utilizing egg oiling and harassment.
If the oiling and harassment is NOT done then we WILL face the situation of knowing whatever geese are at Prospect Park in June will be rounded up and gassed.. Even were we to know the day the gassings would occur, what could be done? We could probably try to chase the geese off ourselves, but it would be too late as they cannot fly when molting.
Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.
That seems to be the case and very grim reality here.
The geese have a fighting chance if they are chased and fly off to Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut or some location where there is not a killing contract with USDA.. They have NO chance if remaining at Prospect Park. Rather, they will surely die a horrible, cruel and prolonged death as they did this past summer.
The truly vital step is to pressure the city and the Mayor to end the killing contract with USDA which will come up for renewal in the spring by calling 311 -- A killing contract which, by the way, costs taxpayers more than $100,000.
But, for now, as emotionally painful as it is, we have to support Prospect Park's efforts to discourage the geese and/or chase them away. The program will cost $10,000, which could be put instead towards something frivolous and inane.
Were that to happen, any geese in Prospect Park in June have a one-way ticket straight for the JFK airport gas chambers, no doubt about it.
Some animal advocates (including myself) are not happy about the use of dogs to harass and chase the geese away.
However, the Border Collies will not be used all the time. The "plan" is to oil the eggs first to prevent hatchings and then use the Border Collies in the spring to chase the adult geese before they molt. Hopefully, bird experts or rehabbers could be around to monitor or aid any geese who, for whatever reason, cannot fly away. The collies are specially trained not to harm or hurt any birds. These are "herding" dogs. Their instinct is to herd and not maim or kill.
Hopefully, Prospect Park, like Central Park could serve as role models to the other parks and areas where nothing is being done to control goose population and the geese in these locations will be gassed over the summer.
Almost 1700 geese and goslings around the city were rounded up and gassed this past summer. As said yesterday, all of this for the (real) price of an airline ticket. And here we thought pat downs and X-Ray machines were invasions of our privacy. We are apparently not allowed to enjoy any geese in our parks anymore either.
Horrible "choices" for sure. But, the idea of these gentle beings being corralled, bound with plastic ties, trucked and gassed at an airport along with their baby goslings is beyond horrifying.
We spay and neuter our pets even though their natural instinct is to breed. But, the alternative (killing in pounds) is far worse. Egg oiling is like that. The unborn cannot suffer.
But, the vilified, scapegoated and hated can and DO suffer. -- PCA