Sunday, May 8, 2011

Character of the Geese

Photo:  Mama and Papa geese at Turtle Pond -- before the "funeral.")
Yesterday, I was critical of the media's general misrepresentation of the Canada goose issue.
There is one more glaring example of this which I neglected to include.
The news piece below is not from some sensationalistic tabloid, but rather NBC. 
It says the Border Collies are being used at Prospect Park to "torment, chase and harass the hundreds of geese at the park:"
"Hundreds of geese?"
As of yesterday, there were less than 20 geese at Prospect Park.
Perhaps to some, accurate numbers are not important in a news piece. (Apparently to the reporters they aren't important.)
But, the fact is, the entire rationalization for harassment and egg addling programs used against the geese is that there are "too many geese!"
And indeed, were this the case, even someone like me, an advocate for the geese might (with regret) support those non-lethal measures necessary to keep an animal population in check.
But, how does one support a harassment or egg destruction program where the species has been and is already being decimated in an area?
Accurate reporting of numbers IS important when the entire basis and justification for a destructive or harassment program depends on numbers! 
Are we going to send a team of dogs out to torment and harass TWO geese on a lake?
Apparently, we are and that is what the numerous photos and videos of goose harassment and egg addling actually show, whether they are from Prospect Park or other locations around the country.
I have yet to see a photo or video of these methods employed in an area where there is an obvious and sizable population of geese!
If I seem obsessed with this particular issue, it is because I am now greatly worried  and in fact, almost paranoid about the few geese we have in Central Park.
The other evening, I went to Turtle Pond to check on Mama and Papa goose still remaining there.
At first, I did not see them anywhere on the pond or the rocks close to the pier.  I immediately began to panic with the first thought coming to mind:
Did they chase Mama and Papa away?
Fighting back emotions and tears, I immediately hurried to the area near Belvedere Castle to get a clear look at the rocks there and the area where Mama had recently laid her eggs -- the eggs that later vanished with blame laid to non-existent raccoons.
Sure enough (and thankfully) both Mama and Papa were on the nesting rock together where the doomed eggs had formerly been.
What was unusual about that picture is that I had never seen the gander on the rock before, just the mama goose.
It appeared to me that the two parent geese were mourning the loss of their eggs together.
In saying that, I realize some will accuse me of "anthropomorphism" and perhaps they would be right.
Still, it was very unusual to see the papa goose on the nesting rock along with mama. It is not a location where the two geese are normally seen together.
So, I was both greatly relieved, but at the same time, distressed to see the two geese standing very closely together and preening and pulling off feathers.
If it wasn't some kind of grieving process or even mock funeral, I don't know what that picture was.
Unfortunately, I was not able to photograph the image as the sun had just gone down and the two grieving geese were too far away.
But, I will return to Turtle Pond later today with camera and before the sun sets.
But, mostly I just want to see mama and papa goose peacefully and happily together -- and not any more funerals. 
And I would greatly love to see some accurate reporting on the part of the press.
Not gross exaggerations, false numbers and mischaracterized depictions of geese.
But, an actual character profile of these endlessly fascinating and devoted animals. -- PCA

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