Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Season of the Witch

As millions of people head out of town to enjoy the July 4th weekend, others are left to face the sudden emptiness and eeriness of city parks recently cleared of their entire goose populations by the city and the USDA. 
Here are two such articles from the past few days.
From Staten Island, New York: 
(note that this short article has generated more than 130 comments!)
And, Madison, Wisconsin:
Madison is unique in the sense its Mayor has provided us with a new and "compelling" excuse for killing the geese:
"The geese have a 20 year life span."
These in fact, are Mayor Soglin's exact words in a letter to a constituent:
 "I support multiple efforts to curtail the geese including oiling of the eggs, active harassment perhaps by dogs and adjusting the geese habitat by maintaining longer grasses. It is important to keep in mind however, that geese have a 20 year life span. That is why the Parks Commission recommended some harvesting as a last resort. I am not enamored with this solution but wish to hear more discussion about it and other alternatives to permanently removing adult geese that have a 20 year life spans." (Emphasis supplied.)
Of course, someone should inform Mr. Soglin that is indeed a very rare goose these days that makes it to "20 years" -- or even 20 months.
Both, witness descriptions and photos of USDA roundups of Canada geese indicate a large portion of the geese currently being "culled" are healthy juveniles and even newly hatched goslings.
But, presumably Mayor Soglin doesn't watch photo slide shows of Canada goose roundups on  Youtube:
(Please post and share this photo entourage, far and wide.)
The "war" on Canada geese and the endless persecution and destruction of them reminds one of the similar past campaign against cats in Europe.  The animals were rounded up and killed because they were labeled and thought to be the "evil" pets of witches.
Of course, Europe paid a heavy price for that slaughter campaign against animals.
The rat population then exploded and brought the black plague which then killed millions of people.
Some wildlife biologists claim that because we have killed off most of the goose's natural predators, the goose population has "exploded."
According to the latest national goose count provided by Carol Bannerman of the USDA, we have 3.4 million geese throughout the United States.
The US is a very large country. It is startling to realize that we cannot tolerate a little more than three million geese within its wide borders which include Alaska and Hawaii.
Some people laugh when advocates for the geese express fear of eventual extinction of the geese. 
But, is such fear truly irrational under the current circumstances?
We are destroying many thousands of goose eggs.  We harass the animals and are culling hundreds of thousands of geese throughout the country -- mostly younger, healthy geese. 
We also hunt the geese.
So, what does that leave to carry on the species?
Migratory geese?
Well, no because their populations are already down and have been declining for years, mostly due to habitat destruction and overhunting.
Should the gene pool of healthy resident geese fall too low, then they will simply not be able to adapt to all the human predations upon their species (Predations that no natural predator could ever wreak.) The geese cannot "recoup" the losses that we have inflicted and continue to do so upon their species.
One has to always remember that we once had billions of passenger pigeons in this country.  But, the last one went extinct in the early part of the last century, prompting the passage of the, "Migratory Bird Act Treaty."
But, that important treaty has now been usurped, allowing for many loopholes for which the USDA can freely conduct its goose massacres without being sued for them.
I don't believe under the circumstances, that the fear of the geese ultimately going extinct is an irrational one.
But, it will be an extinction that we literally watched before our eyes, whether as witnesses in a public park or as videos and photo slides on YouTube.
We are once again, after all, living in the season of the witch.  -- PCA

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