Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Countdown to Nothingness

We are quite literally watching a countdown of disappearing geese and goslings in our city parks.
Of the six "miracle" goslings who recently hatched at Prospect Park, only three now remain:
Some speculate that it is either "nature" or "rain" that is causing the demise of the little ones, but to those familiar both,  with Canada geese and the current "Goosebusters" harassment program at Prospect Park, that is like blaming nature when humans throw their dogs or babies down garbage chutes.
Certainly, it seemed odd, but totally predictable that the two parent geese nested and are raising their goslings in a secluded, wooded area away from the Prospect Park lake and the dog harassment that is occurring there daily.
I say, "odd," because geese don't normally nest or raise young in bushes.  But, it is predictable because, as said many times in this blog, the geese do whatever they have to do in order to survive. -- even if it means nesting and raising young in normally inhospitable areas.
Unfortunately, something seems very wrong in the "dog pond" area where the goose family is currently living -- or more accurately, hiding.  That three of the goslings have already died is counter to the normally high survival rates for Canada geese and their goslings.
Prospect Park has not been hit with devastating tornadoes or rampaging floods.
Nor, are there foxes or coyotes at Prospect Park.
And so, we have to wonder, "What is killing these young goslings?"
I personally believe it is one of three possibilities:
1-- The dousing of oil on the developing eggs that occurred some weeks back may have severely compromised the health of the developing fetuses, rendering them vulnerable to early death.
2--The daily dog harassment by "Goosebusters" on both, the lake and the grass areas of Prospect Park has terrorized the parent geese, causing them to change their behavior and raise their babies in a very high risk area.
3-- Some weeks back, I was told by Central Park Conservancy that "There are low food supplies for waterfowl in city parks during the spring."   I don't necessarily believe this from what I see, however, even if only partially true, then these goslings could in fact,  be starving to death.  
As noted, the parents are raising them in an unusual area.  Its hard to know what natural food is available for the geese in this wooded spot.  Normally, geese don't eat twigs and bushes. Add to that, the parks "No Feeding of Waterfowl" signs all over and it could be that the new family of geese are having a hard time finding nutritional food.
In all of the above and likely possibilities, it is not nature, but rather human harassment, callousness and selective blindness that is causing the demise of the Prospect Park "miracle goslings."
Of course, without actual bodies and necropsies, this is hard to prove.
However, the preponderance of evidence seems to point in these directions.
Canada geese don't normally lose half their clutches in less than two weeks. -- Especially in an area with few or any natural predators.
Still, if is dismaying to watch these tiny babies die in an area of daily "goose harassment," it is downright alarming to witness the vanishing ducks and geese in Central Park and to this day, have NO explanation for it -- That is, aside from "low food supplies."
I asked a DEC official the other day why the waterfowl is disappearing in our parks and got the simple answer, "I don't know."
Should not the people making decisions affecting the wildlife in our parks know exactly why the waterfowl is falling off the radar?
These are, after all, the same people strutting out the "welcome mat" for fishermen to invade every watercourse in Central Park.
And that is exactly what was observed at Harlem Meer today.
The dozen or so geese who were at the Meer a couple of weeks ago have been replaced by at least a dozen fishermen.
Only two geese ("Bozo and Bonnie") remain at the Meer, along with less than a dozen ducks and mallards (including, Brad and Angelina, the two domestic, flightless ducks).
The two geese and almost all the ducks were huddled behind a small, protected, fenced area near the Dana Center today.   It seems they don't like to be in the water when the fishing lines are out.
As one fisherman said to me a few weeks ago, "You see?  They LEAVE!"
And indeed, the geese and ducks are "leaving" our city parks.
None at the Pond on the West Side of Central Park.
None at The Reservoir.
None at the Row Boat Lake.
And only four geese and a handful of mallards at Turtle Pond.
The question is, Where are they all going TO?
Or, perhaps more accurately, Where CAN they go?
I don't have answers to either of these questions.  Or, to exactly why the Prospect Park goslings are dying.
I just know the watercourses are looking empty, eerie and desolate,  devoid of waterfowl.
I am literally witnessing a countdown to nothingness.  -- PCA

No comments: