Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Death Takes a (Temporary) Holiday

(Photos:  The "family" last night just prior to July 4th fireworks.  Lame goose with most of the webbing on one of her feet gone.)
Like most government workers, it is presumed that the USDA took a short break from their otherwise "hectic schedule" over this past weekend to observe the Fourth of July.
For many geese in city parks, this was their last weekend alive.
For those in Manhattan, it was for most, a frightening one.
But, more about that later....
USDA was very "busy" last week.
They hit numerous parks, most of which we will not know of until the USDA  puts out a report some time after the goose cullings.
However, we do know that the USDA hit Willowbrook Park in Staten Island, as well as Inwood Park and Marine Park Golf Course last week.   We know that from eyewitness accounts and several newspaper reports.
Unfortunately, we are not getting eyewitness reports or photos from most of the locations that are surely being hit and their goose populations wiped out.
So far, however, at least one New York City witness, Suzanne Soehner, of Inwood has reported seeing the USDA trucks.
Before showing up at Inwood to round up the 20 to 30 geese there last week, USDA had apparently been to other locations first.   Ms. Soehner describes the scene in a comment to the NBC article site:
".....The geese I observed already in crates on the truck that arrived in Inwood Hill Park on the morning of the roundup contained immobile geese who looked quite dead. The food bank claim appears to be an implausible, incredible attempt to placate potential protesters to this travesty. I'm not buying it."  (Emphasis supplied)
We now have two credible eyewitnesses from different parts of the country describing geese in USDA trucks who are either "half" or "quite dead."
Rotting corpses cannot be "fed" to anything -- least of all, hungry people in another state.
We have been putting out the call to others around the city in suspected goose targeting sites to monitor parks in the mornings with a camera.
(For those unsure about USDA target sites, please go to USDA Goose Removal Report from 2010, scroll down and see if your area was on list of "removal" sites last year.  Although the culling sites have expanded this year, many from last year are repeated:  http://www.scribd.com/doc/48437644/2010-Goose-Removal-Report#source:facebook )
So far, the calls for monitoring have not yielded anything, but there is still time.  
Unfortunately, without video or photographic evidence of cruelty and animals dying in USDA trucks, we cannot "prove" anything
The claim of "feeding the geese to the poor in Pennsylvania" is still going forth, unscathed, unchallenged and even unquestioned by the media.
Yesterday, was the Fourth of July -- a day of pride and celebration for the birth of our nation.
I am neither feeling much pride nor celebration these days -- particularly with the current actions of my country.  The deliberate eradication of wildlife from city parks is instead, making me feel ashamed and very much fearful and despaired.
Nevertheless, I headed out to Central Park last night with my two dogs shortly before dusk to check on "my" geese there.
When first arriving, I could not see any geese at all in the Central Park Reservoir.  A feeling of temporary alarm came over me:  Could USDA have been HERE?
But, there is some kind of barge or rock formation in the middle of the Reservoir, where birds of different species like to stand and hang out.  In the distance, I could make out some birds there, but couldn't tell what they were.
I decided to move on.
I headed towards the lake where the "family" of geese I know are spending their molting period.  The "family" is Mama and Papa goose from Turtle Pond and five of their grown goslings from last year. There are also three other geese who, for whatever reason, have joined up with the family during the delicate and challenging molting season.  I say, "delicate and challenging" because during this six week period, the geese cannot fly -- the reason of course, that our government finds them such easy targets for roundups and killings.
When seeing the family and their new friends on their familiar rock in the middle of the water, I drew a sigh of relief and breathed a short "thank you" to God for protecting them.
Thankfully, there were not many people in the area I was.  The geese, when recognizing me, began to gradually leave the rock and swim towards me, Papa goose, of course, in the lead.   
The next half hour or so was my July 4th celebration.  But, it wasn't one of noisemakers or fireworks.
It was rather, one of peace and tranquility.  I sat down and took photos of my friends.
Several of the geese took treats from my hand, though I believe they did so more to appease and placate me than because they were particularly hungry. A small group of mallards then came upon the rock to share in the goodies. --  "Panhandlers" as Martin Lowney of the USDA refers to mallards.  The thought made me chuckle.
What appeared to be a professional photographer with a tripod stopped a few feet away from the geese, ducks and me and took pictures.
I was almost tempted to crack a joke about not publishing any photos for fear I might be arrested or the geese rounded up by the USDA and slaughtered, but instead, said nothing.
I was enjoying the quiet and serenity of the moment too much and didn't want to spoil it with conversation.  That might have been true of the photographer, as well, as he too, said nothing.
I then noticed one of the geese (a girl, I think) who has most of the webbing torn from one of her black feet.  Pink stood out, where the webbing once was.  I can't say what caused what looks like, a not too recent injury.  Perhaps a snapping turtle, or a fish hook or line.  In any case, we now have two lame geese among the family -- Papa and one of the new geese.
Anyone who says the geese have it "easy" in life doesn't know what the hell they are talking about.
Even without the endless harassment and killing by humans, these birds never have it easy.
After saying their greetings to me and hanging for a while, the peaceful geese returned to the water and headed back to their "safe rock" in the middle of the lake.  It was beginning to get dark and I too, left with my dogs, once again, saying a small prayer to God to continue to look our for and "protect my geesies."
I headed back to the Reservoir again to see if I could find any of the six or so geese  observed occasionally since the molting season began.
The Reservoir again appeared desolate and empty in the fast fading light.
But, a small crowd of people was beginning to assemble at the East and North sides of the Reservoir to watch, in the distance, the July 4th fireworks over the Hudson River. Though not the greatest area for fireworks watching, surprisingly, one can still get a pretty decent view from the Reservoir.  For people who hate large crowds (like me) it can actually be ideal.
A part of me began to wonder if the fireworks in the distance might scare whatever birds were on the Reservoir?  I decided to stick around to watch the course of events.
Suddenly, large "booms" in the distance and the far skies lit up with brilliant displays of bursting colors.
This went on for a few minutes when suddenly, one could hear from the west side of the Reservoir, a louder, far more shrill sound than any booming fireworks.
It was the piercing honking of a goose.
The sound was steady, long, eerie and continual. 
Suddenly, I could make out on the darkened water, one goose seemingly swimming alone and quickly  towards the eastern part of the Reservoir, away from the exploding firework colors and crashing sounds.
Then, there was another goose and another. And then a family of five geese swimming in a group. 
I began, with my dogs to follow the fleeing geese.
They headed speedily towards the farthest north and east parts of the Reservoir -- as far away from the fireworks display over the Hudson as possible.
And then, directly behind the geese, the mallards.
By the time all of the birds had reached the north east corner of the Reservoir, I was surprised at the actual numbers. While certainly not huge, there were more geese and ducks than I had seen all spring and early summer.
The "alarm" goose honking had long since stopped as by that time, all the birds were congregated together and it seemed they were beginning to realize that whatever was happening in the distance was not a real and viable threat to them.
They then waited out the fireworks, a little uneasy, but not seemingly in a panic.
What surprised greatly about the scene before me was that the mallards stayed with the geese, rather than taking off and flying north.  The geese of course cannot fly now.  But, I wonder if that is also true of the mallards or whether they just elect to stay with the geese for "safety" whether they can fly or not?
That is something I need to inquire about and look in to.
The fireworks display finally ended.  As spectacular has it was and exciting for most people to watch, I personally could not wait until it ended.
The birds were at last at peace.
As I and the hundreds of other people on the Reservoir path began to head in the direction towards home, the geese and mallards also headed back to wherever it is they are hiding out during this "season of the witch."
The shame in all this, is that they have to hide out at all.   - PCA

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