Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Two Percent Solution

Interesting information coming out of Birmingham, Alabama yesterday, following a slaughter of 200 geese from local parks a couple of weeks ago:
The local food bank rejected the "donated meat" because "the safety of it could not be guaranteed."
More geese to fill up landfills and more PR "charity" stunts gone awry.
Nevertheless, one commenter on the site speculated that the rejection came on the heels of much community outrage over the killings of park geese and that charities like "The United Way" didn't want to be involved in the controversy for fear some of their other donations would suffer.
That actually makes much sense when one stops to think about it.
Between the "safety" questions of eating meat from animals whose diet is unknown and who have lived in environments of pesticide, insecticide spraying, and pollution, in addition to the controversy of killing "pets" in public parks, then yes, a calculated risk assessment would deem the geese to be rejected.
The same is likely to occur in Pennsylvania -- IF people there and in New York kick up the same "fuss" as in Alabama.
So far though, that is not happening.
One might question, "why?"
For one matter, the media in New York City has failed to address any questions regarding the "safety" of the geese rounded up here to be shipped to Pennsylvania for slaughtering, processing and so-called "distribution to the poor."
And though myself and others have persistently raised these questions on article comment boards, Facebook and this blog, they have so far fallen on deaf ears.
As noted repeatedly, many of the geese are in fact dying in the USDA trucks even before they leave the 80+ degrees, roundup sites. One cannot feed rotting corpses in the heat to anything, least of all, humans.
Why is the media not questioning or investigating the claims?
They are apparently not hearing from and getting pressure from enough people.
Last night, when walking home from Central Park, I thought about most of the people who go to the park and broke up the numbers into speculated percentages. (Admittedly, these are guesses, based upon personal observations, so I cannot vouch for precise accuracy).
55% go for exercise such as running or cycling.
25% for family-related or romantic activities (romantic walks, picnics, concerts and plays, playgrounds, etc.) *
10% walk their dogs.
5% Tourism.
3% Fishing.
2% Nature watching.
(*  "Family-Related Activities" used to include feeding ducks and geese in the parks, but that has been forbidden in recent years.)
Because nature lovers comprise the lowest end of the speculated park attendance scale, I believe this is why our concerns for wildlife are not addressed adequately and taken seriously. 
It is also why the USDA can feel comfortable and unchallenged when entering city parks in the morning hours to round up geese and why city officials have so effectively been able to manipulate the media to report that all the geese are being rounded up and killed for "airline safety" and that their ravaged bodies will be "fed to the poor" in Pennsylvania.
Nevertheless, once in a great while, that "two percent" does kick up a fuss.
It kicked up a fuss last July 8th, when two reputable and credible nature watchers discovered 368 missing geese and goslings at Prospect Park and immediately notified the New York Times. 
Anne-Katrin Titze and Ed Bahlman were the two people single-handedly responsible for media exposure of goose kills last year and indirectly, the development and organization of a rag tag group of goose lovers who founded a place for mutual commiseration and communication via Facebook:
Although initially more than 600 people immediately signed up to the page devoted to the Prospect Park geese, over the months that ensued, most went on to other things as news of goose killings faded from headlines.
But, the core group remained active and persistent -- about two percent of the original joiners.
Over the past year, we have consistently researched and shared articles and information and commented on article sites.
There have been  protests organized by groups,  Friends of Animals and In Defense of Animals, as well as vigils and rallies organized by members of the core FB group and community members of Prospect Park.
There have been meetings with the Prospect Park Alliance and The Humane Society of the United States.
There was even the establishment of "Goosewatch" over the past month or so as news of further goose cullings this year in New York City became known.
All of these things ultimately resulted in Prospect Park being spared this year of a goose roundup -- though roundups are being repeated and even expanded in other areas around New York City.
This demonstrates that even a tiny percentage such as "two percent" can have impact upon and change a wrongful action to a positive one, if organized, persistent and focused.
But, the two percent, city-wide of nature lovers has yet to be sufficiently organized and focused such as the tiny percentage from Prospect Park was over the past year.
That is something that urgently needs to occur if we are to have any hope of saving geese from being slaughtered next year and the next, around city parks.
Hope for that is evidenced this year by the discoveries and reporting of goose roundups occurring in Inwood Park and Willowbrook Park in Staten Island by two nature watchers, Suzanne Soehner and Barbara Suskind.
Like Prospect Park last year, these are the only two goose roundup sites to so far receive any media coverage.
We need the rest of the two percent to step out of the shadows and into the realm of speaking out for change.
To quote Margaret Meade:
"Never doubt that a small group of people cannot change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  -- PCA

1 comment:

dk said...

we'll keep trying and fighting, and any way we can, to get the word out.