Saturday, July 30, 2011

USDA to Canada Geese: "You're My Obsession!"

With the exception of the last blog post, some familiar with this journal over the past year, might think me obsessed with geese.

But, if I am obsessed with geese, it is nothing compared to the focus and obsession our government seems to have with these birds for almost a decade.

Earlier in the week, one of my colleagues shared with us, USDA "Geese Removal Documents" primarily from the year, 2009, but also containing information, studies and data from previous years.

The documents are comprised of 78 pages and seem to reveal a governmental attentiveness and focus on geese that totter on an OCD disease.

Studies, tracking and monitoring of geese.  Repeated analysis of "goose droppings" and "loafing" patterns.  Pages and pages devoted to "hazing" practices against geese, as well as roundups, "euthanasia" and shootings of the birds anywhere near an airport.

For such a complicated series of documents, one imagines that each reader will take out of them, what s/he will.

But, while skimming through the pages, I jotted down some notes that were of particular interest to me.

They are as follows:

In 2009, the USDA rounded up and killed more than 1,200 geese from 16 sites that were designated to be within a "5 mile edge of any airport."

But, at least one of those locations, Alley Pond Park, according to the USDA's own graph, is 7.5 miles from the closest airport.

Moreover, Alley Pond Park only had nine geese.  All nine were rounded up and gassed.

Other locations targeted in 2009 had less than a dozen geese to be rounded up:

Riverside Park -- 12 geese.
Roy Wilkins Park -- 8 geese.
Crotona Park -- 7 geese.

These kinds of statistics seem to poke holes in the USDA claim that they "don't go out to round up just a few geese."

Indeed, they do.

Nor, is any location seemingly sacrosanct from a potential goose roundup for killing.

77 geese were rounded up in 2009 from the Bronx Zoo.

If animals cannot be "safe" around a prestigious zoo, it is hard to imagine where they might be safe.
In another section of the documents, dealing with goose and airline strikes it cites:

Five year period from 2004- 2009:
LaGuardia Airport:   0.8 strikes.
Kennedy Airport:  1.2 strikes.  

Further down, the document then says:

"Due to the low number of geese annually struck, the full benefits of the NYC Resident Goose Management program are not expected for several years."

This seems to promote an attitude of,  "Kill first and ask questions later."

Towards the end of the 2009 Goose Removal Report, the document concludes,
"Overall, there have been decreases in the number of Canada geese one year after the 2009 removals........Lastly, the number of geese inhabiting NYC owned property has been reduced by 72%."  (based on numbers surveyed at 16 sites.)

And yet, the following year, 2010,  the USDA went out and rounded up and killed even more geese, (1,600)  at even more sites around the city.

From Article 5 of the documents:

"To conduct activities within approximately 5 miles of LaQuardia and JFK airports."
But, in 2010, that radius (recommended by the FAA) was expanded to 7 miles within airports.

It is not clear from these documents who exactly decided to expand the radius to 7 miles, though it is presumed to have come from various agencies within the city.

In Article 6, the documents talk about funding:

"This agreement is contingent upon passage by Congress appropriations from which expenditures may be legally met and shall not obligate USDA, APHIS -WS or City of New York upon failure of Congress to so appropriate."

And more:   "This agreement may be reduced or terminated if Congress only provides USDA funds for a finite period."
....."No liability except that provided by Federal Tort Claims Act."

The above seems to indicate that it is Congress (and taxpayer money) that bears the brunt of the funding for the USDA killing activities.

Without Congress "appropriating" and pouring millions into these extermination campaigns, they could not exist for the lack of money to support them.

Meanwhile, Congress still sits on its hands while the country totters on the brink of defaulting on its debts -- something that can lead to even greater economic collapse than what we are already experiencing.

But, we have millions for goose eradications around the country.

Under the section, "Justification and Objection," there is particularly interesting information about the recent history of Canada geese in this country:

From "Background:"

"Resident Canada geese nest south of 48 degrees N Latitude and are product of releasing live bird collections and live decoys, and stocking of Canada geese by state agencies to establish huntable populations in rural areas." 

"State wildlife agencies in eastern US relocated or stocked thousands of Canada geese from 1950's to 1980's mostly in rural huntable areas."   (Emphasis supplied.)

It seems that perhaps some of the geese figured out and didn't much appreciate the (hunting) "game plan" and instead found their ways to public parks and other urban areas where hunting was not allowed.   It seems our "wildlife agencies" never counted on the geese having any brains.

Other gems from these documents:

Under, "Atlantic Flying Resident Canada Goose Management Plan"

"1.02 million geese living in Atlantic Flyway in 2008 (17 states).
"Reduce to 650,000."

(New York State:  "225,000 geese in 2008.  Reduce to 85,000" (2/3rds reduction.)
The documents then go on to discuss "hazing," "banding" and various roundup methods, including the use of "sedatives" and netting for any geese who can fly.

Among "hazing" (or harassment) methods are included, pyrotechnics, dogs, motorized boats and even limited use of explosives.

It seems there is nothing that has not been used to terrorize, capture or kill Canada geese.

Under the heading of "Banding," the documents describe the different types of leg bands and neck collars placed on geese for purposes of monitoring "loafing" or flying trends.

They then go on to say:

"Studies have indicated that neck collars reduce the survivability of geese although cause for reduction is unknown." 


Do we really need "studies" to understand that a thick neck collar on a goose limits the bird's ability to groom, preen and eat?

Of course, they are not going to survive like a goose who doesn't have its neck restricted in a tight band and is thus able to carry on normal goose activities -- activities that are necessary for survival! 

It was around this point, that had I difficulty believing what I was reading. 

So, no, I didn't exactly pour over all the "studies" about analyzing goose droppings and "loafing" patterns.

Perhaps someone else will.

If I came away with one conclusion after going through the 78 page documents, it is this:

USDA to Canada Geese:  "You're My Obsession!"  -- PCA

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