Thursday, May 5, 2011


It's a very simple word that basically means having insight into the future or being able to anticipate results or consequences of actions.
Foresight is something I don't think we use enough of either in our relationships with other humans or especially with animals.
Earlier today, I wrote about the announced plan to bring horseback riding back to Central Park.
This is something I believe requires a great deal of foresight in order for it to be either ultimately successful -- or rather, just become one more conflict between human and animal.
But, foresight is desperately needed in terms of how we solve "conflicts" that are already in existence.  Such as all the complaints about and conflicts with Canada geese.
Each day, I google and post current articles about the geese to our Facebook page:
Almost without exception, every article is about "conflicts" with the geese and how different locals are "dealing" with those issues, from cullings, to harassment, to expanded hunting to egg addling.
My question is, why did we not use foresight decades ago in order to anticipate these situations and why are we not using it now?
Certainly, we should have known that by capturing,  breeding and releasing geese to various parts of the US, the geese would have no instinct or inclination to "migrate" to places they were not born and have never been.  We should have anticipated we were thus, creating and establishing a population of resident Canada geese.
Certainly too, we should have realized that by destroying most of the geese's natural predators (foxes, coyotes, predatory birds or even raccoons), the resident geeses chances for survival would be very high.
And certainly, we should have been knowledgeable about the wariness, protectiveness and mating and family bonds of these animals. Because the geese are such exemplary and protective parents, most of their young survive.
In other words, we should have been able to anticipate much of the current situations and/or "conflicts."
But, we did not do that. 
Instead, in our zeal to create, "manage" and maintain a "game bird" for hunters to shoot at, we neglected to look at possible consequences of those actions.
Which brings us to where we are today:
As written here previously, the geese are very smart, protective and wary animals who quickly figure out how to adapt to and avoid predators.  They quickly and apparently figured out that the way to avoid their #1 predator (human hunters) was by flocking to protected (gun-free) parks, suburbs or golf courses.
And yet, golf courses, shopping malls or even public parks would not normally represent, for geese, their "natural habitat."
Wetlands, marshes, natural lakes, ponds and coastal waterways do.
But, unfortunately, much of these natural habitats and environments have been either destroyed or greatly compromised.
So, between overhunting and destruction of natural habitat we are in some ways, back to where we were when the geese almost became extinct in the last century and efforts were then made to "restore" the hunting population. (They should have instead "restored" wetlands and natural habitat for the geese.)
The only difference is now we have an established population of "resident" geese living in suburban areas and public parks of the US that people bitch and complain about.  
Or, having been driven from their natural environments and food sources, some geese take to farm lands attempting to feed on wheat or corn.
And that of course upsets farmers.
So, what do we do now?
Do we continue to "cull," shoot, harass and destroy geese in the places they have fled to for survival?  Do we continue to render lifeless,  goose eggs?  What are the likely long range consequences of these combined actions if we use any foresight?
Well, as previously noted, one of two things will likely happen over the long haul:
Since the migratory population of Canada geese is already greatly down, (due mostly to destruction of habitat and overhunting) we could again drive the entire species to near or actual extinction -- especially with egg destruction.
The geese will somehow "adapt" to all the predations, breed more and in less likely places.  We will create a kind of "superbird" able to withstand, adapt to and survive almost  anything outside perhaps of an asteroid hitting the planet or nuclear holocaust.  
Do we really want either of those possibilities -- or likelihoods?
I believe the way to ultimately solve most of our so-called "conflicts" with the geese ("conflicts" we created by a lack of foresight and responsibility)  is by creating SAFE wildland areas for them (with little or NO hunting) so they will be likely to STAY in those areas AND to restore their natural habitats and wetlands so they will be less likely to seek and land on farms for food.
In other words, opposite to almost everything we are doing now.
Additionally, were we to restore natural habitats and wetlands, such would also attract natural predators and keep the environment and its animal populations in checks and balance.
Even where few natural predators exist, most animal populations generally breed according to the environment's capacity to support their numbers.
In essence, I believe the presence of "too many" Canada geese in unnatural urban and suburban settings is signal and evidence of the great pressure that is already on the species through overhunting and habitat destruction.  In fact, urban and suburban dwellings might actually represent the geese's last attempts at adaptation and survival.
"Cullings, harassment, shootings, gassings and egg destruction of the geese in public settings can only add to that pressure on the species and either spell ultimate doom for the geese or the creation of the "superbird" able to outwit humans at every turn.
Foresight is what is most greatly needed now in seriously addressing our so-called "conflicts" with Canada geese, as opposed to just doing what "feels good" or comfortable on a knee-jerk, "shoot 'em up" basis.
We have to be able to anticipate consequences of actions.  -- PCA

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