Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Human Toll and Trauma of Goose Culls

So much happening this past week.
Articles breaking out all over the country concerning goose roundups and kills occurring in Alabama,Wisconsin and other areas.
And of course the intended ones for New York City.
Please go to our FB pages for the latest in articles and other information:
In this endless sea of Canada goose "culls" and  horrors, there is nevertheless some good news to report -- though even that is somewhat dubious.
Roundups and gassings of geese will not occur at Prospect Park this year.
City officials and the USDA claim that's because, "The cullings of last year were so successful, it isn't necessary to return this year to PP."
Considering they conducted an extermination last year at Prospect Park, yes, it was impossible for the geese to "recoup" their numbers.
Add to that, the harassment of the spring and current goose numbers at the 600+ acre park are now below 20.
However relieving the news might be that no culls will occur at PP this year, the rest of the news for NYC geese is not positive at all.
The city and USDA are threatening to round up and kill 800 geese from "undisclosed locations" around the city in the next few weeks.
DEP and USDA won't disclose the kill sites because they don't want the USDA workers "harassed" by members of the public who care about the geese and what is happening to the wildlife in our city parks. 
They claim of course that this is for the "welfare" of the geese, but that is just one more PR spin and lie added to what is now, a very long list.
Whatever "humanity" might exist for the flightless geese terrorized on watercourses by humans in boats, driven to land, corralled and then grabbed and stuffed 4 to 6 to small crates and shoved into trucks where they are then driven to their deaths, would only occur were there witnesses with cameras or video to record.
Such was the case, a few days ago when a resident of Delafield, Wisconsin, went out with a camera this past Wednesday morning to photograph USDA workers rounding up 80 geese and their goslings who, to that point, had been residing peacefully on a lakefront property of more than 900 acres.  But, there was very little "humanity" to witness.
I spoke with "Tim" (not his real name) by phone on Thursday evening, one day after the trauma that caused this man severe emotional trauma and insomnia.
This is what he told me:
(Tim) --"I knew something was up, when I looked out my window and saw a man in a kayak wearing a life jacket. People don't normally wear this gear when going out on boats.  I grabbed my camera and went to the lake."
(Me)  "What time was this?"
(Tim)  "8 A.M.  There were three police cars and a team of USDA workers.  The cops would not allow me to get too close.  I shot many pictures.  It was horrible.  The man in the boat drove the geese and goslings to the land.  There, workers corralled them and started cramming them 3 to 4 to a crate.  Some of the goslings were screaming.  The woman directing the operation was laughing...."
(Me)  "How long did this take?"
(Tim)  "Four hours.  From 8 Am to Noon.  The geese were terrified.  They were pooping all over themselves. Most of them looked half dead by the time they started cramming them into the trailer.  It was a huge trailer, but they crowded the birds anyway."
(Me) "Do you know where they took them?"
(Tim)  "I understand they were taking them somewhere for gassing. When they finally left, I tried to follow them in my car.  But, the police blocked me from doing that.  Many of these goose families I knew -- in some cases, for more than five years They even took my 'Buddy!'"
Tim then explained how he had rescued a goose several years ago who had been shot with pellets.   The goose was almost dead when Tim rescued and brought him to a vet.  But, the goose survived and was one of the geese rounded up the other day.  Tim took that particularly hard.
(Tim) "I took pictures as they chased Buddy out of the water and stuffed him into a crate. He kept poking his head out.  Now, I can't even look at the photos.   I have not been able to sleep since this happened.  Yesterday was the worst day of my life."
Tim and I actually talked for a couple of hours. 
He told me he had been trying to fight this action for months, but the Mayor of the town would not listen to any pleas from those caring about the wildlife.  Apparently, a very wealthy neighbor resented the geese being on his side of the lake and demanded that the town and the government, "get rid of them."
Though a claim was made that "egg addling" had occurred, either they did not follow procedures properly, were lying about the oiling, or the parent geese successfully removed the oil.  More than half of the geese rounded up on Wednesday were goslings at different stages of development.
I begged Tim to write down and document his experience as both a way of dealing with the trauma and as means to share with others.  I begged him also to email me some of the photos.
"Tim," I said, "One of the problems in fighting for the geese, is that to this point, we only have three photos of a roundup and none of us in New York have personally witnessed a roundup and can testify to it.  You are one of the few people who can testify to this and you have photos.  We really need your help if we are to get the word out about this stuff to the press and the public."
"It kills me to look at the photos now.  They make me relive the whole horrible experience," Tim replied.
The man was so distraught and sleep deprived, I don't know that he will do actually do these things now.   Hopefully, he just needs some time.
However, he did tell me that I was free to give his name and number to any members of the press that might be interested in doing a story.
The problem is, I don't have media connections.
But, am telling Tim's story anyway -- even without the photos and personal documentation.
In all the debate and discussions about the goose slaughters occurring around the country, what we rarely hear about are the tolls and traumas to those Americans who truly care about nature and these long persecuted birds.
They, like Tim,  suffer in silence and with the terrible memory, guilt and sorrow of birds they so loved, but in the end, could not protect or save.   -- PCA

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