Saturday, May 14, 2011

No One (and Everyone) Is To Blame

"You can look at the menu, but you just can't eat.
You can feel the cushion, but you can't have a seat.
You can dip your feet in the pool, but you can't have a swim.
You can feel the punishment, but you can't commit the sin."
The above words are from the Howard Jones song of 1986, "No One is to Blame."
This could well be the theme song for Canada geese; especially, the last line, "You can feel the punishment, but you can't commit the sin."
For all the punishments that are presently being laid out to Canada geese, one has to wonder of their sins?
Is it the "sin" of eating?   Attempting to procreate?  Or, being in the paths of speeding jetliners or Luis Vittan shoes?
One was not aware that any of those things were "sins."
But, apparently they are. 
The punishments for these sins include (but, is not limited to) roundups and gassings, expanding hunting seasons (i.e. shootings with arrows or guns), harassment with dogs and pyrotechnics and destruction of nests and eggs.
If the punishments seem a bit excessive for the perceived "sins and crimes", (those crimes of just trying to live) who does one complain to if not happy with this type of "justice and management?"
Ah, that does get tricky because it seems (like the song says), "no one (person) is to blame."
The decisions to "manage, cull, shoot, gas or harass" Canada geese lie with no one agency or individual in particular, but in fact, with many. 
The decisions represent a convoluted vortex of bureaucracies and agencies ranging from those on the highest federal levels (Dept of Interior) to those on the very lowest representing town boards or officials from local parks and golf courses.
Then of course there is the FAA, who, rather than map out bird migratory paths via avian radar, seems to prefer the easier route of extermination campaigns against any bird that dares to fly.
Lastly,  there are those members of the general public who, either due to empty lives and overactive imaginations, complain that the geese mess up their designer shoes, chase children or eat grass or corn in the fields.
Still, the fact is, that most members of the public don't care about this quandary (or "war" on wildlife) and are not even aware of it.
During the early morning hours of last July 8th, a team of hired workers for the USDA descended on Prospect Park in Brooklyn and rounded up 368 Canada geese and their goslings, who at that time could not escape due to either molting or youth. The birds were stuffed into crates, stacked in trucks and hauled to Kennedy Airport where they were then crammed into gas chambers and killed through suffocation with CO2.
Later that morning, when concerned park goers asked park officals, "Where are all the geese?" they were told that the flightless birds had "flown to Jamaica Wildlife Refuge."
That was obviously a lie as young goslings and molting geese can't fly anywhere.
Two of the park goers (Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman) reported the incident and untruths to the New York Times and the rest is history.
Although more than 1,600 Canada geese were rounded up from various locations around NYC last year and gassed without public or media scrutiny, the Prospect Park goose gassings became a national news story because, initially two people dared to speak out against and expose it.
This year, Prospect Park has implemented a "goose harassment" program whereby the geese (when able to fly) are chased away with Border Collies and will presumably be killed somewhere else.
That is called, "progress and humanity."
We are told that all this "culling" and harassment is because there are "too many Canada geese."
There are an estimated 3.8 million resident Canada geese for all of North America according to recent news reports.
When Europeans first arrived to this country, there were between 3 and 5 billion passenger pigeons.
Last known counts of these birds in the beginning of the last century was 225,000.
The passenger pigeon was then hunted to extinction.
Canada geese were in danger of extinction by the middle of the last century due to overhunting and destruction of habitat.
But, then attempts were made to bring the species back as a "game bird" for hunters to shoot at through captive breeding and release throughout the north east of the United States.
Unlike other threatened species, the Canada geese have adapted well to both, predation on their species,  as well as attempts to "restore" them.
"Too well" according to most Wildlife Biologists now.
The geese are now tagged "invasive" and are blamed for all kinds of "conflicts" with humans.
Some people even ignore the devastating destruction of wetlands and natural habitat for waterfowl and blame the geese for the fact that other bird species are disappearing.
Well, why not?  Blame the geese for everything from rainfall and floods to global warming to summers changing to winters.  The geese can't protest, stand on a picket lines or lobby Congress.
"You can feel the punishment, but you can't commit the sin."
And like the song also says,
"No one is to blame."
But, the fact is, everyone is to blame.  -- PCA

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