Friday, March 11, 2011

"Overabundant" Neurosis

Below is a video produced from Wildlife Services of the USDA:
The video demonstrates egg addling techniques that are used to manage "overabundant" Canada goose populations.
But, they never say what is considered to be "overabundant." 
According to people met the other day, six geese at Turtle Pond in Central Park were "too many."
Central Park has long addled goose eggs.  The only reason why six goslings hatched last year at Turtle Pond was apparently because the parent geese adapted to the addling and built their nest somewhere in the rocks near Belvedere Castle -- an area dangerous and difficult for park workers to get to.
In fact, in all of Central Park last year, only two pairs of geese succeeded in producing young.
The result of all the harassing and egg destruction, is that for people like me, who actually enjoy seeing geese, we usually have to walk a long way from our homes to actually see these birds.  And even that is only certain times of the year.
I don't in fact, live near Harlem Meer.  It is more than a mile from where I live.
The reason I go there so often is strictly to see the geese and other waterfowl.   It is more common to see geese at Harlem Meer than almost any other area in the park. 
However, even at the Meer, the geese are harassed on a semi-regular basis and so there are large blocks of time when no geese are seen there at all. -- particularly spring into the summer.
At the moment, geese are at Harlem Meer.
But, they will not be allowed to stay, much less breed there.
Once the spring arrives and more people use the park, the geese will be given their "flying papers" so to speak.
Usually, the geese return back to the Meer in late August after breeding and molting has occurred somewhere else. 
But, they continue to be harassed until the winter finally arrives.  By that time, many of the geese have naturally migrated to areas in the south anyway. One has to question the wisdom and practicality of "harassing" the geese late into the fall.
 Indeed, the only thing the goose harassment of last November at Harlem Meer accomplished was scaring off permanently, the lone swan who had been living there since early October -- along with the Northern Shovelers.  
It would be wrong to specifically "blame" Central Park for all the harassment and egg destruction.  Central Park Conservancy has to respond to both, complaints by geese-hating people like those encountered the other day ("The geese should be cooked!").  And they have to respond to the demands of the city and the federal government.
And so, we come down to the inevitable choice:  Either harass the geese, chase them away and destroy their eggs -- or, round up and gas them.
A "choice" that reminds one somewhat of the movie, "Sophie's Choice."
It seems we as humans have a long history of demonizing,  persecuting and targeting certain species of animals for endless harassment and destruction.
Who can, after all,  forget the "big, bad wolves" of childhood fairy tales? 
But, it wasn't just fairy tales that spelled eventual near extinction of wolves.  Practices like hunting, shootings from the air, denning, poisoning and trapping brought the species to its literal knees.
Then there are the "evil coyotes." (A natural predator, by the way, of geese.)  Similar destruction campaigns have been waged on coyotes for centuries as with the wolves and geese.   But, like the geese, the coyotes are extremely "wily" and so far, have adapted to most of man's attempts to utterly destroy them.
There are in fact, many species of "pest" animals that humans endlessly target for destruction from starlings to pigs to crows to peaceful pigeons and doves.  Even the beautiful mute swans are not free from human wrath.  They are, in fact, high on the government "hit list" of animals to be "reduced."
One wonders what drives us as humans to so despise certain species of animals and seemingly want them banished from the planet?
Is it fear and paranoia?  ("Get them before they get us?")  But, how does that apply to peaceful animals like doves, swans and geese who represent no real "threat" to us?  
Is it jealousy?  ("The birds can naturally fly, but we can't.")  So, we build big steel machines that can knock birds out of the skies -- or we kill the birds to make room for the big steel machines.
Or, is it simply misdirected aggression?  We are frustrated or unfulfilled by something in our lives and seek some "target" to direct our anger, negativity and hostilities towards?
I don't know what the underlying reasons are.  I just know they make no sense.
Nor, does it make sense that first we target and kill the "evil" predators, (such as coyotes) and then target and kill the "pest"  prey because we then claim there are "too many" (such as the hapless geese.)
The more we "manage and control," the more we have to.
And yes, we always seem to need some animal target to focus our paranoia, neurosis and frustrations upon.
And right now, that unfortunate animal species is most of all, the regal and peaceful, Canada goose. 
Perhaps the real "overabundance" is our own neurosis. -- PCA

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