Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Next "Stage" (Literally)

The goose killings may be over in New York City for this year, however, they continue elsewhere.  This article and video (from this past Tuesday) is from Durham, North Carolina:
It is important to watch the news clip video provided in this story, because it provides information that the geese were first drugged with "sedatives" and then later gassed.
Moreover, various comments and posts on the WRAL Facebook page claim that most of the geese rounded up were "goslings" and temperatures in Durham over the past couple of days have exceeded 100 degrees.   (So much for the USDA claim that they "don't round up geese in the heat because it stresses out the birds too much."  If 100 degrees isn't too hot to do goose roundups, what is?)
To add insult (and irony) to injury, one needs to consider that most of the 21 gassed geese and goslings in Durham would have left anyway in just a couple of weeks to return to their staging location (more about that later).
There were more than 130 comments to the original news video on the WRAL Facebook page. 
Once again, another community divided against itself in its passions to either kill or save the geese. 
This issue, when exposed and covered by the media is almost as divisive among people as abortion and gay rights.
That is especially noteworthy, because the media to this point, has mostly acted as a mouthpiece for the USDA (rather than the "watchdog" to the government actions it is supposedly covering). Most news reports so far have been biased in favor of killing the geese. 
This particular "news" story was a typical governmental mouthpiece in that the reporter used the now familiar euphemisms employed by the USDA such as "removals" and "euthanasia" of the geese and particularly emphasized the "nuisance" of goose poop. (It would really be nice if just one of these days a reporter actually looked up the word, "euthanasia" in a dictionary before using it to describe goose roundups and gassings or sending the geese to slaughter.)
Ah, for the sake of a little goose poop, many thousands of geese and their babies should die!
(On a side note, it is funny how most of the people whining about "goose poop" never consider the "poop" produced by the six million "food" animals that we raise and slaughter every day in this country.  Droppings that contribute to global warming, water pollution and land erosion.  But, that is OK because we are "loving" our McDonald's hamburgers!)
Like the "20,000 geese" claimed by the USDA to exist in the NYC metropolitan area for the past two to three years, the "3.5 million" figure quoted nationwide, has also been bandied around for at least the last two years.
That is to assume that the accelerated and nationwide hunting and cullings of geese has had absolutely NO effect upon their population!
That seems like a tall assumption.
If all these shootings, gassings and sending to slaughter hundreds of thousands of geese over the past few years have had absolutely no effect upon the population, why exactly are we doing them?
Are we, in all our blood lust on the geese, creating a kind of "superbird" that is able to compensate and reproduce faster than we can kill them?
That would be the only possible explanation for a murderous campaign that despite its zeal and fanaticism fails to make any dent in the goose population for at least two years! 
But, despite the adaptability of the wily geese, I personally doubt we have created a "superbird" that is able to withstand and survive everything we throw at them, from harassment to egg destruction to guns to slaughterhouses to gas chambers.
Even if the population of Canada geese is still 3.5 million despite the hundreds of thousands of killings over the past few years, that does not seem overwhelming for a country the size of the United States.
As one might guess from reading this and other entries on this site, I am somewhat dubious about the USDA claims of the "overpopulation of geese" in both the country and New York City (although to some people, even a population of TWO geese constitutes  "overpopulation.")
I of course, can point to no actual "evidence" of goose numbers, except the ones I count in Central Park.
But, even those are hard to "count" because they fluctuate throughout the year and according to the precise time of year.
During this past molting season there has been a total of around 40 geese in all of Central Park.
But, that number should rise over the next few weeks as Harlem Meer is a typical "staging site" for the geese.
(A staging (or "gathering") site is a location where the geese typically meet up with former members of flock or family just prior to fall migrations.)
Usually during the last weeks in July and early weeks of August, new gaggles of geese arrive at Harlem Meer several weeks before the fall migrations.  There, they apparently meet up and gather with former flock and family members.  They may stay a few weeks or even a couple of months until either "harassed" or leaving on their own to fly in large groups  to wintering locations.
Usually the number of geese at Harlem Meer during the "staging season" balloons up to about 100 geese.
So far, there are still just the 8 molting (and very shy) geese at Harlem Meer.
But, if that number doesn't change soon, we will know that all the killings of geese around the city have indeed had "impact."   (That "20,000" quote would thus be just a bunch of hooey, based on goose figures from 3, 4 or even 5 years ago.)
But, so much depends on the numbers of geese we see now and over the next few weeks -- especially in those sites known as staging locations.  We need to compare the numbers observed this year with those known from the recent past.
In essence, though not necessary to worry now that the geese still in our city parks are subject to possible round-ups, it is every bit as important to monitor and count their numbers.
Perhaps even more so, than during the actual molting and raising young, period.
We need to learn and know whether the geese in our city are in danger of actual eradication or whether, in all our lust to kill, we have created a kind of 'superbird" able to withstand and survive anything.
Personally, I will be looking very closely at Harlem Meer over the next month or so.
That will provide the real clues and answers about actual goose population trends in New York City, rather than USDA seemingly outdated quotes.
I urge others to do the same, especially if living near a known staging area for the geese.
How does one know if one is living in a staging location for geese?
If many new geese begin to arrive from now until September.
Please count numbers and log in a journal. Compare with numbers from last year (if available) and to next year (presuming we still have geese next year).  Please share on goose Facebook pages:
The importance of keeping and sharing counts of geese in staging locations cannot be emphasized enough. They ideally should be significantly larger than goose counts other times of the year. 
Without accurate counts,  it is impossible to know what "effect" all the harassments, egg addling and goose killings have actually had.  
We will simply be forced to rely on government quotes and that does not seem to bode well for the ultimate welfare, stability and survivability of the geese. -- PCA

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