Friday, August 19, 2011

Small Glimmers of Hope (Investigative Journalism and "Loner" Geese)

(Photo -- "Loner Goose" at Harlem Meer.)
I am forced to eat some of my words this morning.
Yesterday, I complained that virtually "100%" of current articles on geese screamed for their harassment, eradication or destruction via hunting.
But, no sooner had I posted the blog entry yesterday, when an absolutely outstanding article was published in numerous papers around the country!:
If I thought investigative journalism was totally dead, thankfully I am proved wrong.  It is indeed rare to say that any article could be 100% accurate, but this one truly is.  (All the more amazing considering its length and depth.)  The author, Mary Lou Simms did an incredible and masterful job of digging and reporting.  This is a piece that needs to be shared far and wide.
As has been shared so many times in this journal and once again seems to be confirmed in the piece is the sheer cruelty by which the geese are crammed into USDA crates and transported to wherever they go for gassing or slaughter.
From the article:  
"There she saw PollyAnna crammed into a crate with half a dozen other geese.

"The geese were frantic," Dangerfield recalls. "They had been shoved into crates, stacked like pancakes, defecating on each other. I was begging and pleading for them to at least let me have the few crippled geese we had rescued."  (Emphasis supplied.)

This eyewitness testimony from a woman who witnessed less than a couple of dozen geese (and their goslings) in the USDA truck shortly after they had been rounded up.

Imagine this same scene 3, 4 or 5 hours later after many dozens of geese had endured multiple roundup locations and an arduous journey in the heat to another state?

It seems that the "meat" from such tortured and stressed (and in many cases, already dead) wild creatures would not be fit to feed to a dog, let alone humans.

And yet, our mayor and the USDA would have us believe the geese were "fine" to then be slaughtered and "donated to a food bank!"

The "book" is not in yet on what really happened to the hundreds of geese rounded up in this hideous fashion from NYC parks this year.

But, it is a story that will eventually be told in all its horror, cruelty and injustice.

The truth wills out in the end -- just as it did in this truly exceptional article.


On another note, I returned to Harlem Meer last night.

While hoping to catch some laps in the pool,  just as I entered the park, lightening cracked in the distance and that put a quick end to any swimming plans.

The good news was that all of the geese and ducks were gathered in the small, fenced in grassy area near the Dana Center.

Since all hopes of swimming were dashed, I had extra moments to spend with and observe the birds.

There is little doubt in my mind now that the family of four geese newly arrived to the Meer is the same family from the Reservoir.

How do I know this?

For one matter, as I approached the grassy area, several nervous ducks flew to the water.  I then saw that a raccoon had wandered near the birds.

But, the family of four geese remained put.  Noticing the raccoon, but not considering him a viable threat, the geese were watchful, but not threatened. 

The goose family from the Reservoir was well used to raccoons over there.

On the other hand, the gander of the group was very nervous when people passed by with even small dogs.

Except for my two dogs, the Reservoir geese rarely saw dogs at all.  And, I recall the first couple of times they saw my dogs (Tina and Chance), the gander was extremely reactive.  So much so, that I had to secure my dogs away from the visibility of the goose family.

Afraid of dogs, but not raccoons.   Yep, that would fit with Reservoir goose family.

(After a couple of minutes, the ducks, seeing that the geese did not react to the raccoon, climbed back on the grassy embankment.)

Another tip off that it is the same family is the fact that the four geese recognize and walk towards me, though they don't come close enough for me to reach out to them.

It was impossible to ever get close enough to the geese at the Reservoir to touch or hand feed them a treat due to the iron fencing and steep inclines surrounding the Reservoir.

I do think it a positive that the Reservoir geese are friendly, but cautious around people. Its not a good idea to encourage geese to become too familiar and cozy with humans, though certainly the goose family from Turtle Pond were very conditioned to accepting treats from people -- even small kids.

The loner goose (pictured) was also with the family last night -- though as always, keeping a short and respectful distance away.

The loner goose obviously has the low status of the group, although the family basically accepts his/her presence and "tagging along."

But, surprisingly last night, there was a sixth goose wandering around the perimeter of the group!

I have no idea where this new goose suddenly came from or again, why s/he was alone.  But, she or he was not warmly or enthusiastically  welcomed, particularly by the other loner goose who took it on himself to chase the new goose towards the outside of the group.

Indeed, this new phenomenon of "loner" goose is something I don't recall seeing in the past.

But, I have now observed it several times this summer.

There was a "loner" goose who stayed with the Turtle Pond family through the molt at the boat lake.

There was another "lone" goose at the Reservoir.

And now two "loners" at Harlem Meer.

It really makes one wonder if at least one or two of these geese are possible survivors of goose roundups over the summer that might have taken out their mates or family members?

I have no idea of course.  But, it is quite unusual to be seeing "loner" geese, though if they are to survive, they can't stay "loner" for long.  

On the contrary, they have to try and get an "in" with another goose gaggle or family.  And that is what these two loner geese seem to be trying to do at Harlem Meer.

A new goose group in the forming.....

Snapping photos of the geese last night, another clap of lightening cracked in the far distance.

All six geese suddenly stood at rapt attention and appeared like they would all take off.

But, then apparently deciding that the lightening was too far away to require action, they all settled down again and returned to grazing (or as USDA would say, "loafing.")

The mallards of course, followed the geese's lead.

And for all the lightening and thunder threats last night, it actually never rained in the city.

I am hopeful that for all the "ominous" signs and threats to the geese, the real storms of eradication will likewise, not happen in the end.

At least we finally got an honest and totally accurate in-depth media piece yesterday. 

Some small glimmers of hope on the horizon.  -- PCA



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